University of Phoenix Survey Finds Majority of First Responders Have Experienced Symptoms Related to Mental Health Issues

Many feel mental health counseling is available, however stigmas may deter some from receiving the help they need

PHOENIX--()--A recent University of Phoenix® College of Social Sciences survey revealed 85 percent of first responders have experienced symptoms related to mental health issues, and one in three (33 percent) have received a formal diagnosis of a mental health disorder, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, the vast majority of first responders surveyed (84 percent) said they have experienced a traumatic event on the job.

“This high percentage of first responders experiencing traumatic events in their jobs makes it especially important to provide them access to mental health services, such as screenings and treatment programs, and for their employers to encourage workers to seek help if needed,” said Samantha Dutton, Ph.D., MSW, program director for University of Phoenix College of Social Science. “It is also essential that providers help first responders learn how to address stress that comes from experiences they encounter on the job to reduce chances of worsening mental health.”

Although the survey found approximately half of first responders have participated in pre-exposure mental health training (51 percent) and “Psychological First-Aid” after an incident (49 percent), that still leaves half without any pre- or post-training or mental health support after an incident. Additionally, 69 percent of first responders say mental health services are seldom or never utilized at their organization.

The survey shows that first responders believe there are stigmas associated with seeking mental health help on the job, with nearly two in five (39 percent) first responders saying there are repercussions for seeking help at work. The perceived repercussions include:

  • Thinking a supervisor will treat the first responder differently (50 percent)
  • Being viewed as weak by colleagues (45 percent)
  • Being looked over for promotions (39 percent)

“As a community, we must erase the stigma around receiving mental health treatment and organizations employing first responders should promote mental wellbeing – not just after a traumatic event but even from the effects of routine stress on the job,” Dr. Dutton added. “It is better to prevent than to allow work-related pressures build up, which could lead to more serious mental health needs.”

University of Phoenix operates eight counseling centers in six states (California, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado) that offer free services to members of the community. For more information or to set up an appointment, visit

Visit to find full results from the first responders’ mental health survey.


This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between Feb. 2–21, 2017, among 2,004 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, who are employed as either a firefighter, police officer, EMT/paramedic, lifeguard or nurse. Figures were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the first responder population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

About University of Phoenix® College of Social Sciences

University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences offers programs in human services, psychology and counseling. The college’s curriculum seeks to empower individuals who wish to enhance their skills for career entry or enhancing current roles in the helping professions. Curriculum is regularly updated to meet national and state professional standards. University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences faculty members are experienced professionals, holding advanced degrees. Many sit on state licensure and accreditation boards, as well as professional committees. For more information, visit

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc., University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S., as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit


University of Phoenix
Angela Heisel, 602-557-8650


University of Phoenix
Angela Heisel, 602-557-8650