Combating Poor Mental Health in Emergency Responders: Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act
Osteopathic Family Physician
Suicide rates are alarmingly higher among emergency responders than the general public, and it is estimated that 30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions compared with 20% in the general population. Emergency responders experience their share of work-related stresses, but mental health problems in this demographic are often under-reported. For example, only 40% of suicides committed by emergency responders are reported. Amid these issues, there is a lack of best practice guidelines for mental health treatment among emergency responders. Hence, the stage is set for legislation to focus on improving mental health among emergency responders.
The Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act seeks to improve mental health among emergency responders through improved detection, prevention, and treatment, ultimately leading to decreased rates of suicide. The HERO Act would implement data systems to capture rates and risk factors related to suicide, establish behavioral health and wellness programs within emergency responder departments, and implement evidence-based best practices to identify, prevent, and treat post-traumatic stress disorder in emergency responders.
Osteopathic family medicine physicians play a crucial role in screening and managing poor mental health among their patients. Caring for the body, mind, and spirit is a core tenet of osteopathic medicine; therefore, osteopathic family physicians are uniquely positioned to help emergency responders overcome their mental health struggles. Given the prevalence of emergency responders who receive care from such physicians, and the value osteopathic medicine can offer this population, we encourage the profession to contribute to discussions surrounding the HERO Act.
Derynda, Brittany; Gupta, Krisha; Bhattacharya, Shreya; and Hollar, T. Lucas, "Combating Poor Mental Health in Emergency Responders: Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act" (2023). HPD Articles. 496.
Copyright© 2022 by the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians