Our gratitude can increase a first responder’s connection and support

Feb 11, 2022

Gratitude is good for us – but did you know it can also make us feel more connected to those around us?

Whether we’re showing our gratitude to someone, or being thanked, the act of gratitude makes us feel closer to each other. It helps to make our relationships stronger and it deepens our connection.

This sense of connection is part of what brings happiness and a sense of wellbeing into our lives.

In fact, connectedness is an important pillar of psychological wellbeing and inclusion.

When we feel connected with others, we also feel supported. This is vital for first responders, who spend so much time helping others: it’s important that they feel backed up by their families, friends and community members.

Research tells us that before, during and after traumatic events, the level of social support available to first responders can predict the level of their psychological distress, and the extent of any psychological injury experienced.

By the nature of their work, first responders play a central role in managing emergencies. Their work is often physically and emotionally demanding and puts them in situations that most of us prefer to avoid. The rewards of such work can be great, but the cost to first responders can be high.

More than half of all emergency responders are deeply impacted by traumas they face in the course of their duties:

  • First responders have higher rates of psychological distress and higher rates of diagnosis of mental health conditions than the general adult population.
  • First responders are more than twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts and are more likely to make suicide plans.

Major disasters such as the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20 and the COVID-19 pandemic compound people’s trauma exposure. Talking to others, feeling heard and having their experiences acknowledged can be very healing and helps to minimise the negative impact of traumas.

While saying thank you is a small act, it can make a big difference to those who take on these major challenges.

Our gratitude can help first responders to feel a sense of connection, and it lets them know that we all support them.

Thank a First Responder Day is an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and express our gratitude for the work of first responders. Let’s create a loud voice of gratitude for those who do so much for us.