The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), in partnership with the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), has released a new directory of behavioral health professionals that are equipped and ready to help firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, and rescue workers.
Emergency responders are at risk of many behavioral health concerns, including anxiety, depression, burnout, post-traumatic and acute stress, addiction, relationship challenges, and others. Through the Share the Load™ program, the NVFC works to provide resources and tools to help responders struggling with behavioral health issues and to enable departments to support the mental well-being of their members. The new Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals is designed to provide local options for responders seeking assistance so they can get the help they need.
“Emergency responders are the ones rushing in when everyone else is rushing out, and that takes a toll on behavioral health,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “Add to that the stressors of balancing the fire service with family life and, for volunteers, another career. It is imperative that those who need help have access to mental health providers that understand the unique challenges and stressors they face. I encourage department leaders to make sure their members are aware that this important resource is available.”
All of the providers listed in the directory either have firsthand experience with the fire and emergency services or have completed a training course through FBHA to educate them on the fire service and the specific challenges responders face. The directory will be updated on a monthly basis as new providers are added. Information about each provider, their credentials, how to contact them, and what insurance they accept is included. In addition to licensed healthcare professionals, other resources for assistance are also included, such as chaplains and peer support specialists.
The directory is part of the NVFC’s Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments initiative, which is being developed in partnership with FBHA and APA and is made possible through a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to the directory, the initiative includes a toolkit and training to help fire department leaders promote and support mental well-being among their members. These components will launch later this year.
Access the Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals and find additional resources from the Share the Load program at www.nvfc.org/help. Behavioral health specialists who would like to be added to the directory can fill out the form provided on the page.