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.
Featured Educational Resources
- COVID-19 Mental Health Resources for First Responders: Check out the Office of EMS's COVID-19 Mental Health Resources page for the latest information on how to stay resilient during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- You | Responder Strong: Built specifically for first responders, this wellness platform provides personalized resources to help you take charge of your health, well-being, and everything in between.
- Psychological First Aid Training: This is a FREE course offered by John Hopkins University. Utilizing the RAPID model, this specialized course provides perspectives on injuries and trauma that are beyond those physical in nature. The RAPID model has been found effective in promoting personal and community resilience.
- NIOSH Traumatic Incident Stress: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides an overview of how traumatic stress can impact emergency responders and was to mitigate its effects.
- NENA Wellness Continuum: The National Emergency Number Association's (NENA) wellness resources for the 9-1-1 community. The NENA Continuum initiative is a comprehensive approach to wellness in the 9-1-1 industry. It is an environment that brings together professionals, resources, standards, ideas, training, lessons learned, and innovation – all focused on a singular goal: Your personal wellness.
- SAMHSA's First Responders: Behavioral Health Concerns, Emergency Response, and Trauma: This issue of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's (SAMHSA) Supplemental Research Bulletin provides an overview on mental health and substance use (behavioral health) concerns in first responders.
- Stress First Aid for Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services Personnel Student Manual: Stress First Aid (SFA) is a set of supportive actions designed to help emergency responders assist each other in reducing the negative impacts of stress.
- Health & Safety Infographics: Check out this page to view the Virginia Office of EMS's and other organizations' health and safety infographics.
Webinars & Videos
- Living Well and Leveraging Adversity and Stress over the Long Haul
- Agency Wellness Programs that Work
- OC87 Recovery Diaries: Stories of Mental Health, Empowerment, and Change
- Fit for Duty: Identifying and Managing CSD in Organizations, Yourself and Others
- HealthONE EMS Presents Resiliency with Dr. Schiraldi
- Living Well and Leveraging Adversity and Stress over the Long Haul
- Workplace Strategies for Mental Health: Working Through It
Resources for Administrators & Supervisors
- National Association of EMT | Guide to Building an Effective EMS Wellness and Resilience Program: The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) has developed a guide to assist EMS agencies in developing programs that aid EMS personnel in maintaining their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
- Vicarious Trauma Toolkit: Includes tools and resources tailored specifically to public safety to help provide knowledge and skills necessary for organizations to address the vicarious trauma needs of their staff.
- Emergency Medical Service Peer Support Team Manual: Contains information that has been instrumental in the training of new peer support team members. It is intended to be used as a reference, review, and refresher, and training resource.
- American Ambulance Association | Promoting Suicide Safety for EMS Providers: This toolkit provides information on how to prepare for or respond to suicide concerns in the workplace at three times: Before an EMS provider experiences a crisis, during a crisis event when an EMS provider may experience thoughts of suicide In the aftermath of a crisis.
- National Volunteer Fire Council | Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services Adopting a Proactive Approach to Behavioral Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention: This report looks at the impact of ignoring mental health within the fire service, the challenges of breaking the stigma associated with mental health issues, firefighter suicide prevention awareness, the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the importance of addressing the psychological health risks facing firefighters that can have damaging effects on their personal relationships.
- The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation | Suicide: What you need to know A Guide for Fire Chiefs: This guide will walk you through an understanding of how and when firefighters are at risk and provide you with the best data about suicide awareness and prevention. Additional resources are provided to further assist you in taking a strong leadership role in preventing firefighter suicides within your organization.
- The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation | Fire Service Behavioral Health Management Guide: The guide pulls from the experiences of departments of all sizes, response needs, and demographics. It is not an A-Z guide for setting up an effective behavioral health program but is designed to help departments understand where to start and what considerations need to be addressed through the lens of an individual department’s situation.
- Comprehensive Blueprint for Workplace Suicide Prevention: This website discusses a comprehensive approach to workplace suicide prevention and presents resources for each recommended strategy.
- A Strategic Planning Approach to Suicide Prevention: This course will help you identify activities that will be effective in addressing the problem of suicide and help you prioritize your organization's efforts.
- Workplace Mental Health Assessment: The Center for Workplace Mental Health, Mental Health America, and One Mind at Work joined forces to create an easy to use and comprehensive assessment and access to a full array of high impact workplace mental health resources.
- Responding to Grief, Trauma, and Distress After a Suicide: U.S. National Guidelines: The National Guidelines are a call to action for everyone engaged in suicide prevention to strengthen and expand their response to every fatality in order to both reduce the risk of suicide and meet the needs of the bereaved and of others who suffer from the range of negative effects related to exposure to a suicide.
- A Manager's Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace: 10 Action Steps for Dealing with the Aftermath of Suicide: This guide provides clear steps for postvention giving leadership a sense of how to immediately respond to the traumatic event, have a plan in the short-term for recovery, and consider long-term strategies for helping employees cope down the line.
- Breaking the Silence in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers on Responding to Suicide in the Workplace: The guide explores what is involved in supporting employees bereaved through suicide and other practical information about responding effectively to suicide in the workplace. Sections examine four workplace suicide and offer practical approaches for each one and developing and implementing a bereavement policy to deal with suicide in the workplace.
Hotlines & Warmlines
FREE and CONFIDENTIAL Help Available 24/7
- Fire/EMS Helpline: 1-888-731-FIRE (3473). The Fire/EMS Helpline was created for first responders by members of the fire service. This program is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of firefighters, EMTs, rescue personnel, and their families.
- 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 Emergecy Responder Crisis Text Line is a global not-for-profit organization providing free confidential crisis intervention via SMS message.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the United States.
- 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.
- Sapphire Valley Wellness Center: Sapphire Valley Wellness Center was founded by first responders who understand that first responders experiences unique stressors and require unique approaches to mental health care. First responders who seek counseling with the Sapphire Valley Wellness Center will be provided service by a Licensed Professional Counselor that has personal experience as a first responder and has taken professional training in providing counseling to first responders.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Other Mindfulness Apps:
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.
- Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance: Firefighter/EMT Suicide Screening
- Heretohelp Screening Self-Tests
- Mental Health American: PTSD Test
- PsychCentral: PTSD Screening Quiz
- Canadian Mental Health Association: Work-Life Balance Quiz
- UpToDate: Alcohol consumption Screening
- Evolution Health: Substance Abuse Surveys
Exercise and Nutrition
- 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!
- 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.
- Do Yoga With Me: get a great workout and help to manage stress with these free yoga videos.
- 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.
- Addictions Center: Offers addiction recovery resources for emergency responders and is a referral service that provides information about addiction treatment practitioners and facilities.
- Connections App: To help support individuals in recovery from substance use disorder, Addiction Policy Forum has partnered with CHESS Health to launch Connections, a free smartphone app that is scientifically proven to support patients in recovery by reducing relapse and promoting pro-social engagement.
- Drugrehab.com: Information and resources for firefighters surrounding substance abuse and work-related mental health issues.
- 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.
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.
- The Code Green Campaign: a first responder oriented mental health advocacy and education organization who's 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.
- Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance: The mission of 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- NAEMT EMS Mental Health Resources: A database containing resources to help support EMS provider mental health.
- Jounal 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.
- First Responder Center for Excellence: FRCE is committed to promoting quality educational awareness and research to reduce physical, emotional, and psychological health and wellness issues for first responders.
- 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 educational 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.