Faculty Articles

First Responder Peer Support Programs

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FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


There is an overwhelming need to manage the mental health and psychological well-being of emergency service workers, including police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, correctional officers, and dispatchers. To address these concerns, peer support programs have garnered increased interest and support in the first responder community. Most of the work in this area has focused on qualitative feedback, such as self-reports concerning the perceived impacts of peer support programs. However, little attention has been directed to delineating the steps taken to design these programs, unique considerations for first responders, or methods for the empirical examination of the programs’ efficacy.

The authors will discuss the collaborative efforts between a university psychology department and a sheriff’s office to create an effective peer support program for the agency’s sworn and civilian personnel. They offer several considerations and strategies that may serve as guidelines for departments wishing to implement their own peer support programs.