Emergency responders are at risk of psychological injury, it’s an occupational hazard. And sometimes recovery depends on having no more exposure to hazardous situations.
Leaving with any kind of injury will be hard. It’s likely that your paid or unpaid role is an important part of your life and you’ll miss the camaraderie and all the other positives associated with being part of your team.
If you tell your colleagues and the organisation that you’re leaving because of a psychological injury, then their response is very important. Even if they’re supportive you may share feelings of failure mixed in with the loss and perhaps relief, and the process of ill health retirement
for emergency service employees can be long and stressful.
If you don’t feel well-supported, then leaving can be extremely difficult. A sense of being let down or betrayed by your organisation (see 'moral injury' on what can I do if I'm not ok
) is likely to make your injury worse and can lead to feelings of anger, shame, and despair. You may question the time you gave to the organisation or withdraw from colleagues, losing more of your protective armour when you’re already unwell.
Some of you may be leaving or retiring without anyone knowing you’re injured. Volunteers in particular might give another reason for leaving their role, perhaps citing the demands of family or work life. This secrecy, usually driven by stigma and shame, can leave you alone and isolated at a time when you really need support. We hope the information on this website helps you see that this is not your fault or a sign of weakness and that there is help available.
Where possible, try to mark the end of your service. It’s not your fault that you got injured; there should be no shame attached to leaving through psychological injury. Please get the support you need in this process.