Mental Health & Resiliency Resources

The Virginia Office of EMS thanks you for being on the front lines in helping to serve our communities. Your service as an EMS provider matters, and you truly are making a difference in helping to save lives. Below are some helpful resources about EMS provider mental health and resiliency. We will be updating this page regularly as more resources become available.

Need help now? You are not alone!
There is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL help available 24/7 specifically for EMS Providers:

Resources for Administrators & Supervisors

Hotlines & Warmlines


FREE and CONFIDENTIAL Help Available 24/7

  • Safe Call Now: (206) 459-3020 or 1-877-230-6060. Safe Call Now is a confidential and comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, all emergency services personnel and their family members nationwide.
  • Emergency Responder Crisis Text Line: Text “BADGE” to 741741. The Emergency Responder Crisis Text Line is a global not-for-profit organization providing free confidential crisis intervention via SMS message.
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988. The National 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the United States. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the United States. Click here for more information about 988 and how to raise awareness about its implementation.
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
  • Community Service Boards (CSBs) are a great resource for finding local mental health supports and services and function as the single points of entry into publicly funded mental health, developmental, and substance use disorder services. CSBs also have can respond to mental health emergencies, 24 hours a day.

First Responder Specific Therapy & Telemental Health Counseling

  • Certified First Responder Counselor: A Certified First Responder Counselor is specially trained to understand the needs of first responders, including the importance of confidentiality and trust.
  • NVFC Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals: The providers listed in this directory are vetted behavioral health professionals that either have firsthand experience with the fire and emergency services or have completed a training course through the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance to educate them on the fire service and the specific challenges they face. In addition to licensed healthcare professionals, there are other resources for assistance such as chaplains and peer support specialists. The directory is updated once a month as new providers are added.
  • Forge VFR: Forge VFR (Veteran and First Responder) is mission-focused on improving the mental health and well-being of active-duty service members, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Your treatment will be with other First Responders, no one else, and that will make your experience them more comfortable and give you the ability to get treatment with other First Responders who are going through similar issues.
  • IAFF Center of Excellence: If you’re struggling with post-traumatic stress along with co-occurring depression, anxiety or substance abuse disorders, you need treatment from professionals who understand the fire service culture and the unique pressures of your job. The IAFF Center of Excellence connects you to best-practice, evidence-based therapies delivered by clinicians who understand the types of trauma you experience on a day-to-day basis.
  • Christina M. Shultz - First Responder Counseling: Christina offers Virginia-based  counseling and telecounseling support services for first responders. Her goal is to help first responders build resilience in better managing the normal stressors that come with public service and with processing and letting go of grief, shame, and maladaptive patterns that are holding first responders back.
  • First Responder Wellness by Simple Recovery: First Responder Wellness provides trauma-based substance abuse and mental health treatment designed by their experienced, culturally competent team. Their programs exclusively treat First Responders. Their comprehensive curriculum integrates substance abuse treatment with post- traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression treatment, as well as incorporating family systems support.
  • Brower Psychological Services: Brower Psychological Services was developed to address the unique demands of working with First Responders and those in Police and Public Safety, as well as their families. While based in Colorado, Brower offers telehealth counseling services.
  • eHome Heroes: eHome Heroes First Responder program delivers online, face-to-face counseling for PTSD and related issues, allowing anytime, anywhere access to outstanding licensed counselors via smart phone, tablet or computer. It’s easy, flexible and 100% confidential.
  • Save A Warrior​™ (SAW™): is committed to ending the staggering suicide rate plaguing our veterans, active-duty military and first responders. Save a Warrior™ conceive, originate and produce Integrated Intensive Retreat (IIR) program experiences to transform the way our heroes live their lives.

Smartphone Apps

  • Crew Care: an app for first responders that provides mental health insight on an individual’s stress load and associated factors.
  • ResponderRel8: Its tagline "The app that’s always on call", ResponderRel8 is a 24/7 peer-to-peer chat app for first responders only that provides a platform for you to connect, celebrate and commiserate with first responder peers anonymously.
  • Lighthouse Health & Wellness: Lighthouse is an in-hand, on-demand, 100% confidential health and wellness platform available at no cost to our nation’s public safety agencies. Lighthouse was designed to provide our first responders and those that support them anonymous access to existing health and wellness programs, along with a growing library of the latest educational health and wellness information and tools that have been tailored to the unique needs of those working in public safety.
  • PTSD Coach: Created by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this app provides you with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help you manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD.
  • Mindfulness Coach: Created by VA’s National Center for PTSD. Mindfulness Coach was designed to teach people how to practice mindfulness to help manage stress. The app provides a gradual, self-guided training program designed to help you understand and adopt a simple mindfulness practice.
  • Better: Made by leading mental health experts who provide the ongoing mind and sleep audios, Better is a powerful mental health app that gives you all the information you need for a better life and better sleep.
  • Better Stop Suicide: This is a free app using world-leading psychological techniques and technology to stop people from committing suicide.

Other Mindfulness Apps:

Self-Screening Tools

Self-screening tools can provide you with an easy way to examine your overall mental health. Please note these tools are not meant to replace a real medical diagnosis by a licensed clinician.

Exercise and Nutrition

  • Task Performance and Health Improvement Recommendations for EMS Practitioners: In the area of physical fitness, NAEMT is working in collaboration with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to develop suggested physical fitness guidelines for EMS practitioners. Intended to ultimately help reduce the number and severity of musculoskeletal injuries on the job, these guidelines are based on the physical fitness requirements needed to perform the variety of occupational tasks undertaken by EMTs and paramedics in the day-to-day performance of their jobs.
  • ChooseMyPlate: Provides recipes and resources to support building healthy and budget-friendly meals.
  • Move Your Way: Everyone needs physical activity to stay healthy. But it can be hard to find the time in your busy routine. The Move Your Way tools, videos, and fact sheets on this page have tips that make it easier to get a little more active. And small changes can add up to big health benefits!
  • Feeding America’s Bravest: Survival Mediterranean Style!: This site is created for and inspired by firefighters across the nation and developed specifically as a toolkit to aid firefighters to better health! The aim is to motivate firefighters and their families to incorporate Mediterranean Diet principles at work and home through education, participation and incentives.
  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: provides information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families, and discusses evidence-based, community-level interventions that can make being physically active the easy choice in all the places where people live, learn, work, and play.
  • Yoga For First Responders® Cyber Academy
  • YMCA 360: free online at home exercise video from the YMCA.
  • Fitness Blender: hundreds of free, full-length workout videos, workout programs, and meal plans.

Relationship Development

  • ResponderRel8: Its tagline "The app that’s always on call", ResponderRel8 is a 24/7 peer-to-peer chat app for first responders only that provides a platform for you to connect, celebrate and commiserate with first responder peers anonymously.
  • REAL Essentials RESPOND: As Responders, emergency response work not only challenges us but can also impact our loved ones in many ways. REAL Essentials RESPOND, a CRE e-learning video series created with Responders for Responders is a series that highlights some of the common challenges we experience in our relationships and communications. 
  • The Gottman Institute: The mission of the Gottman Institute is to reach out to families in order to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships. They are committed to an ongoing program of research that increases the understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated.

 

Substance Abuse

  • American Addictions Centers Resources for First Responders: American Addiction Centers offers a multitude of substance abuse resources for first responders.
  • Alcohol and Drug Hotlines: Alcohol and drug hotlines are anonymous and confidential toll-free numbers that offer assistance to those with a drug or alcohol addiction. They are staffed by trained advisors, some of whom are also in recovery themselves. Hotlines are available to both the person addicted as well as their loved ones. While these hotlines cannot provide counseling services, they do provide support, education, and resources to help you or your loved one better understand how to get additional help and steps to addiction treatment.
  • Alcohol Help: Alcohol Help is an informational resource geared towards reducing the harm caused by alcohol. They strive to provide high quality, well researched webpages surrounding the implications of alcohol use and how to seek treatment.
  • Virtual 12-Step Support Meetings: American Addiction Centers (AAC) will be hosting free virtual 12-step meetings throughout the week. These sessions will be based on traditional 12-step meetings, hosted by a person in recovery, and topics or meeting types will vary based on the group’s preference.
  • RehabSpot: Provides educations and resources on the many issues associated with addiction and recovery.
  • Recovery Village: The Recovery Village® delivers comprehensive treatment services for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. With locations across the country, The Recovery Village® offers patients a full continuum of care, including medical detox, residential services, and outpatient programs.
  • Shatterproof at The Florida House Experience: Shatterproof at FHE is for veterans and first responders who need treatment for drug and alcohol use disorders and other common mental health conditions in this population. The treatment program offers peer-specific support groups, trauma-based therapies, and neurorehabilitation therapies to provide individualized care and expedite the recovery process.
  • Addictions Center: Offers addiction recovery resources for emergency responders and is a referral service that provides information about addiction treatment practitioners and facilities.
  • Drugrehab.com: Information and resources for firefighters surrounding substance abuse and work-related mental health issues.
  • Drug-Rehab.org: is a list of Virginia rehab programs and treatment resources.
  • Al-Anon Electronic Meetings: Electronic meetings, like all Al‑Anon meetings, offer help and hope to anyone who is affected by alcoholism in a family member or friend.
  • National Rehab Directory - Virginia: Virginia-based alcohol and drug treatment facilities that can help anyone break free from drugs, no matter whether the addiction is to Inhalant, Dextromethorphan (DXM), alcohol, or any other street or prescription drug.
  • Live Another Day: this organization has evaluated over 14,000 treatment providers throughout the country and only listed the centers that meet their standards for high-quality care.

Organizations Helping First Responders

  • All Clear Foundation: The mission of the All Clear Foundation is to improve the life expectancy and well-being of all first responders and their families. This website contains a database that has hundreds of resources for first responders.
  • Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance: The mission of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance is to collaborate, develop and implement behavioral health awareness, prevention, intervention, and post-crisis strategies to provide firefighters with an easily accessible and confidential source of information.
  • The Code Green Campaign®: Code Green is a first responder-oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Its mission is to bring awareness to the high rates of mental health issues in first responders and reduce them, Eliminate the stigma that prevents people from admitting these issues and asking for help, educate first responders on self-care and peer care, and advocate for systemic change in how mental health issues are addressed by first responder agencies.
  • Ashes2Art Program: Ashes2Art(A2A) was established by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Captain William Best and artist Kathy Sullivan as a platform for first responders to explore creative outlets for resiliency strengthening. A2A is a nonprofit organization that provides classes, open studios, and creative peer support to interested emergency services personnel.
  • Putting A Dent in Mental Health Inc.: Born in Southwest Virginia, putting A Dent in Mental Health, we are driven by a single goal; to build and grow a national vision of support for First Responders that suffer from Mental health illness by Putting a Dent in Mental Health.
  • Call for Backup: The #CallForBackup Suicide Awareness and Prevention Campaign is built upon the principle that peers are best suited to help one another. Their unique training program helps first responders understand how the stresses of the job impact them mentally, emotionally, physically, behaviorally, and spiritually, and teaches skills to promote resiliency.
  • Share the Load Program: The National Volunteer Fire Council's Share the Load™ program provides access to critical resources and information to help first responders and their families manage and overcome personal and work-related problems.
  • Academy Hour:  Academy Hour provides valid, practical, relevant, and supportive mental health education which will help First Responders gain resiliency, longevity, and overall well-being, on- and off- the job.
  • NAEMT EMS Mental Health Resources: A database containing resources to help support EMS provider mental health.
  • Journal of EMS Mental Health Articles: Get the latest news and research surrounding EMS provider mental health.
  • International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc. (ICISF): The mission of the ICISF is to provide leadership, education, training, consultation, and support services in comprehensive crisis intervention and disaster behavioral health services to the emergency response professions, other organizations, and communities worldwide.
  • Crisis Response Care: Crisis Response Care is a program designed for first responders, Chaplains and community volunteers to deepen their knowledge in the area of crisis response. Their program offers free crisis response resources and free onsite trainings that are approved by ICISF.
  • EMS Strong: The EMS Strong campaign seeks to celebrate, unify and inspire the men and women of our nation’s emergency medical services. Created by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in partnership with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), EMS Strong brings together associations, EMS services, sponsors and national media to honor the dedication of EMS practitioners nationwide.
  • Responder Strong: The mission of Responder Strong is to improve mental health supports for emergency responders and their families through joint focuses on intervention and prevention. Their site serves as a resource map for responder-informed crisis and clinical services as well as easily accessible educational content and tools for responders, their families, their leaders and the clinicians who work with them.
  • The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation: offers a variety of training for the fire service including courses on: community risk reduction, firefighter behavioral health, firefighter LODD prevention, and LODD preparedness.
  • Fire Hero Learning Network: Provides critical safety, operations, and community relations fire service training, from the line firefighter through to command and leadership.
  • Everyone Goes Home®: Founded by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Everyone Goes Home® Program, provides free training, resources,  and programs to champion and implement the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives. The goal of the Program is to reduce the number of preventable firefighter line-of-duty deaths and injuries.
  • Status: Code 4, Inc.:The mission of Status: Code 4, Inc. (SC4I) is to provide trauma healing counseling and mental wellness education services to First Responders and their family members.
  • Shift Wellness: is a carefully chosen team of first responder, behavioral health, and wellness experts whose mission is to lead and implement a fundamental shift in public safety organizations and their cultures. They assist first responder departments, individuals, and families to become educated, trained and able to help themselves and prevent crippling stress responses that impair performance and destroy families.
  • YogaShield® Yoga for First Responders® (YFFR): It is YFFR's mission to bring yoga and mindfulness science to practical applications for first responders and military personnel. The YFFR Protocol builds mental and physical resilience leading to optimal levels of performance on and off the job.
  • Firefighter Cancer Support Network: The mission of the Network is to assist firefighters and EMS providers and their immediate families diagnosed with cancer by providing badge to badge support, training and guidance. Since 2005, the nonprofit Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) has provided assistance and one-on-one mentoring to thousands of cancer-stricken firefighters and their families. FCSN also delivers extensive firefighter cancer awareness and prevention training nationwide.
  • REBOOT Recovery - First Responder: REBOOT First Responders is a 12-week peer-led course that helps first responders and their families heal from critical incident stress and trauma. The practical tools and teaching found in this course are specifically designed for those within the law enforcement, fire, EMS, emergency communications, hospital emergency and corrections communities.
  • The National First Responders Fund: NFRF is a financial resource organization dedicated to First Responder programs and training to address awareness and recovery from work-related Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI). The NFRF is a bridge between private donors and the financial needs of First Responders relating to the Post Traumatic Stress Injuries they sustain on the job.
  • The Center for Fire, Rescue, and EMS Health Research: The mission of the Center for Fire, Rescue, and EMS Health Research (CFREHR) is to understand and improve the health of first responders through systematic research and evaluation. We have worked with and collected data from nearly 100 fire departments across the country and have successfully solicited participation from more than 2,000 individual firefighters.

Retirement & Resiliency Resources

  • Retire Well Training: One of the most difficult times in a first responders’ life can be retirement. However, when one door closes, another one opens. The National First Responders Fund offers a free comprehensive Retirement & Resilience course. Participants will learn: How to remove the “supersuit” and rediscover who you are without your occupation, examine aspects of security in your transition and adaptation to civilian life, explore ways to accept change, coping with abandonment and replacement, and finding belonging elsewhere, and find a new purpose, by staying busy and doing engaging activities and occupations.
  • First Responder Retirement Academy:  The First Responder Retirement Academy works with retiring and retired first responders who need a clear plan for retirement. For many first responders, their toughest problem is that after a life of service and dedication of helping others, they have not fully prepared for the challenges of retired life. We help them build the blueprint for their next meaningful journey.

 

*Links to non-Virginia Commonwealth or non-federal websites on this page do not constitute as an endorsement by the Commonwealth of Virginia or the U.S. government, or any of its employees, of the information and/or products presented on those sites.*