New Behavioral Health Resources Available for First Responders

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

New Behavioral Health Resources Available for First Responders 

In a recent national survey of firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, 19 percent reported having had thoughts of suicide, 27 percent reported having struggled with substance use issues, and 81 percent said they feared being seen as weak or unfit for duty if they asked for help.

Law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency response are professions where communication is mission critical—so why aren’t first responders talking more about their behavioral health?

SAMHSA has developed new resources and materials with significant input from first responders. We hope you’ll continue reading to learn more about the following new materials available and share them with colleagues and friends.

    New Online Training Course

    Service to Self: Behavioral Health for Fire and EMS Personnel

    This new, online training course includes videos featuring emergency medical technicians and fire personnel, scenarios, and interactive quizzes. The course addresses occupational stressors; mental health and substance use issues including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and alcohol use; resilience; and healthy coping mechanisms including demonstrations of stress management techniques. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE) for continuing education credit.

    Learn more about all of SAMHSA's training courses for first responders.

    Each of these courses is free and can be accessed online individually or reviewed and discussed in a group setting to foster dialogue. Beyond videos, the courses contain interactive features and assessment tools. 

    New Issue of The Dialogue

    Effects of Trauma on First Responders: Volume 14, Issue 1  2018 (PDF | 1.04 MB)

    This issue highlights the challenges first responders experience through all phases of disaster response—the visible and obvious, and the veiled. The authors provide insight into the unique culture of the first responder community. This awareness is key to providing effective behavioral health services in a manner that is valuable to and accepted by first responders.

    New Supplemental Research Bulletin

    First Responders: Behavioral Health Concerns, Emergency Response, and Trauma (PDF | 264 KB)

    This issue focuses on behavioral health issues experienced by first responders. It also explores risk and protective factors, as well as interventions to reduce behavioral health risks and foster resilience. 

    Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) team at or 1-800-308-3515 for more information. Learn more about SAMHSA DTAC

    The views, opinions, and content expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).