Serious burn injuries completely alter a person’s life, affecting not only the way her body feels, looks, and functions, but also her sense of well-being and emotional homeostasis. People who have sustained a serious burn accident can greatly benefit from burn survivor support groups and counseling.

Connecting with others who have gone through similar circumstances and learning coping mechanisms from professional counselors can bring hope and help burn victims adjust to their post-injury lives.

How does peer support and counseling help burn patients?

Burn patients may suffer from a wide range of psychological, emotional, and psychosocial issues. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are not uncommon. Many also suffer from poor body image, have difficulties re-entering regular community life, and have no idea how to approach their futures against the backdrop of their injuries.

Along with other treatments, peer support and counseling can reduce depression and anxiety in burn patients, as well as help them sleep and reduce nightmares, according to the medical journal BMJ. Having someone to talk to – particularly someone who has suffered major burn injuries, who has walked in your shoes, and who came out on the other end to live a happy, full life – can help bring you hope.

George Pessotti, a man who suffered third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body, received support from a burn victim volunteer during his 70-day stay in ICU. The volunteer made Pessotti realize that he really could overcome the injuries and live a full life. The support was so effective that Pessotti was indeed able to go on and have a very successful life, and he now uses much of his time to helping other burn patients. He even wrote a book about his experience called Reason for Living: A Burn Survivor’s Story of Hope and Rebirth. “What I bring them is hope,” he said. “It’s not the end of the line, no matter how bad the injury is.”

Where can I find support and counseling resources?

Most burn centers have an excellent list of support-related referrals they can share with you. Your burn care team should be able to help you connect with other burn victims, and provide you with local resources for support groups, counseling, and community programs.

There are also some great online resources that may be helpful.

  • Phoenix Society: This nonprofit organization offers numerous resources for burn patients, including a listing of peer support articles.
  • Meetups: There are several meetups for burn victims around the country.
  • Online support: You can read stories from other burn victims, share your own, and get a lot of peer-to-peer support on Experience Project.

What if I feel insecure about reaching out for help?

Some people may not feel strong or brave enough to reach out to others for support, but know that many others have been through similar circumstances and have gone on to live full, incredible lives. Peer support and counseling is a vital part of your healing, as the old Swedish proverb reminds us: “Shared joy is a double joy. Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

If you ever feel like you have lost all hope, reached a crisis point, or are contemplating suicide, reach out to someone immediately – be it a family member, your doctor, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

You may also have legal options to secure compensation for the psychological distress associated with your injuries, as well as economic damages you suffered. Call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774 for help finding a lawyer who can help with your burn injury claim.