Most of us will never encounter ONE event that creates PTSD in our lives. However, First Responders can encounter critical, traumatic events on a DAILY basis. Yet, mental health conversations and support can be taboo in their culture.
Foundation 1023 is committed to supporting the emotional and mental wellness of First Responders and their support network who are experiencing illness, loss or stressful life events by providing confidential funding for emotional and mental wellness services, as well as access to peer supported outdoor activities and events designed for personal wellness and connection.
Through public, business and community donations, Foundation 1023 provides positive mental wellness impact for first responders with confidential counseling, peer to peer training and community awareness regarding the need for mental health support in the first responder community.
Help Us Put First Responder Mental Health First.
Study: Police Officers and Firefighters Are More Likely to Die by Suicide than in Line of Duty
A white paper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation revealed that first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Suicide is a result of mental illness, including depression and PTSD, which stems from constant exposure to death and destruction.
The white paper study, the Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders, examines a number of factors contributing to mental health issues among first responders and what leads to their elevated rate of suicide. One study included in the white paper found that on average, police officers witness 188 ‘critical incidents’ during their careers. This exposure to trauma can lead to several forms of mental illness. For example, PTSD and depression rates among firefighters and police officers have been found to be as much as 5 times higher than the rates within the civilian population, which causes these first responders to commit suicide at a considerably higher rate. Even when suicide does not occur, untreated mental illness can lead to poor physical health and impaired decision-making.
“First responders are heroes who run towards danger every day in order to save the lives of others. They are also human beings, and their work exerts a toll on their mental health,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “It is our obligation to support them in every way possible – to make sure that they feel welcome and able to access life-saving mental health care. This white paper should serve as a critical call to action to all who care about our heroes in red and blue.”
The white paper also goes on to lay out several barriers that prevent first responders from accessing necessary mental health services to help them cope with trauma. Experts describe the shame and stigma surrounding mental health within professions that prioritize bravery and toughness, and the public remains largely unaware of these issues, since the vast majority of first responder suicides are not covered by the mainstream media. Additionally, of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States, approximately 3-5% have suicide prevention training programs.
“We need to end the silence that surrounds the issue of first responder mental health.” Ruderman added. “Also, departments should encourage or require first responders to access mental health services annually. This will enable our heroes to identify issues early, and get the help that they need. It will save lives.”
In The News
Over 100 volunteers, including survivors of the October 1st shooting in Las Vegas, came together Saturday morning to assemble 1,000 baskets for first responders.
Chad and Jennifer Robertson were two of more than 150 Coloradans who survived the October 1st shooting in Las Vegas. Chad wanted to do something nice for the first responders who helped him; give them a little something to say thank you. Soon he had raised close to $40,000; enough to provide thank you baskets to 1,000 first responders who helped that night.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Melody Mesmer, co-founder of Foundation 1023, an organization that helps provide mental health services to first responders and their families.
“Having the availability to turn good from something bad is always good for our environment and our communities and it also helps spread the message of taking care of each other and being kind to each other,” said Mesmer. Foundation 1023 is just one of the many organizations who came together to help fill the baskets with meaningful gifts.
“There’s a lot of good people out there. For as horrible as this man was who created this crime and did this to this venue and all these people. … There’s way more good people in the world than bad people,” said Chad.
How Foundation 1023 makes a difference
I am finally getting help for my PTSD. Thank you!
This is saving my marriage.
I am so thankful to have this resource. It is much needed.
I was involved in a shooting and was struggling horribly. This counseling helped me and my wife so very much.
The counseling I received was phenomenal and provided me with tools for this lifestyle.
My life has been spinning out of control. This is getting me grounded. With two shootings and being assigned to investigate child pornography for years, I have really needed this.
It has given me help. I needed to talk to somebody who understands about PTSD stress and years of fighting demons. This was healing to me.
Absolutely astounding! I would not have sought out help on my own if it wasn't for this program. Foundation 1023 is at the top of our list for all fundraising efforts in the future.
Going to therapy is teaching me how to survive this career. I am learning to separate myself from the emotions of the caller so that I can keep things from hitting me personally and keep things in perspective.
This is saving my life.
As a law enforcement officer, I thought I was immune. Now I know that I am resilient.
I am healing. I am going to be ok.