Receiving gratitude improves the lives of first responders – here’s how

Feb 11, 2022

Gratitude feels good and practising it regularly improves our mental fitness and wellbeing.

Just as importantly, being on the receiving end of that gratitude is good for us, too.

These are two of the reasons behind Thank a First Responder Day, held on 12 June 2024. This is our opportunity to thank the career staff and volunteers who put themselves at risk in order to keep us safe.

First responders do extraordinary jobs, saving lives and protecting our communities. They are also humans who are facing challenges in their work.

The ‘hero’ label is often used in describing the work of first responders, but many in the first responder community don’t sit comfortably with this label. Many are in their jobs due to a desire to help others, and no one is immune to the effects of this work.

We know that more than half of all emergency responders are deeply impacted by the 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.
  • The Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20 and the COVID-19 pandemic compound people’s trauma exposure.

The act of expressing our gratitude helps to boost a first responder’s sense of wellbeing by reminding them of good and kind acts, and showing them that their work is seen and appreciated, when all too often their lens must focus on the opposite.

Thank a First Responder Day is a sincere expression of gratitude in aid of the wellbeing of those expressing it, and also for those receiving it.