Fire departments across the United States serve as first responders to a wide variety of calls, often with the expectation that fire fighters will bring calm to chaos. Many experience trauma that can contribute to stress, substance use disorders and mental health challenges. More firefighters die from suicide each year than in the line of duty.1
Accessing mental health care to help deal with stress and trauma exposure can be a challenge due to the stigma associated with such care and a shortage of resources.
We spoke with Paul Bearce, retired Fire Chief of Rio Rancho, about his work leading a first responder task force within the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition. Watch the video to learn more about the unique stressors first responders experience and how the task force is providing mental health education and resources to fire departments in rural communities throughout the state.
UnitedHealthcare Community & State is supporting New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition with a $30,000 community investment to bring the mental health trainings to first responders across New Mexico.