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This article was written by Everymind as part of the ‘Minds Together’ program: mindstogether.org.au.
Communication is an important part of any relationship. Good communication can reduce frustration and stress in relationships, but poor communication can make things worse. Everymind has shared some communication strategies with us from their work supporting the mental health of paramedics.
Family, friends and colleagues all play an important role in supporting paramedics to cope with their unique and essential role, including their long and shifting work hours, high stress situations and exposure to trauma. Learning about relationships and how to improve them is a key part of supporting the mental health of paramedics. Safe and healthy relationships protect us during times of change and uncertainty, and when we are not feeling at our best. People feel less alone, less anxious and less fearful of life in a supportive environment.
We also know that social connection is valuable for our mental health and wellbeing. Our physical and mental health improves when we are surrounded by people who care about us. In comparison, a lack of social connection is detrimental to our health and wellbeing and contributes to feelings of loneliness.
But relationships don’t have to be perfect. It is normal for every relationship to have ups and downs. The quality of the relationship you have with someone matters more than the number of relationships you have. Most importantly, we want to feel that we can depend on those key people to be there for us when we need them.
To help improve the communication between you and the people you care about, here are some communication skills to keep in mind:
Family and friends have told us that providing support to paramedics can be very rewarding, but from time to time you may experience indirect trauma and distress from talking about their experiences on the job. Emotional exhaustion can decrease your empathy and desire to continue your support role. The balance of mutual support in your relationship could become unbalanced and you may feel the relationship is becoming one-sided.
Try applying these approaches:
Family, friends and colleagues all play an important role in supporting the mental health of paramedics. Minds Together features interactive activities, tips and advice, and real stories like this one from paramedics and the people who support them:
Minds Together was developed by Everymind, a national institute dedicated to the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide. The program is currently in a trial phase and Everymind are inviting participants to help test it. This could be a family member, friend, partner or colleague. It could be you or someone you know.
To learn more and find out how you can help, visit mindstogether.org.au.