First Responders Helping Others with Mental Health and Reminders to Care for Themselves

Creating Safe Scenes training course from SAMHSA is designed to help police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel respond to calls involving someone experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis. Creating Safe Scenes presents information about mental illnesses, substance use disorders, and trauma; offers guidance on de-escalating scenes with an individual in crisis; provides tips for connecting people with resources in their community; and identifies resources for learning more about these topics.

Links to Resource:

  • Creating Safe Scenes training course from
  • Another SAMHSA free online training course, Taking Care of Our Own provides law enforcement officers with a foundational behavioral health skill set to better understand and address the stressors that are unique to law enforcement. Viewers will learn to recognize signs and symptoms of stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts and actions.
  • CopLine Hotline provides confidential, peer support for officers struggling with mental health issues like trauma, depression, and other forms of stress.
  • Read the article Colorado Sheriff’s Office to Pair Mental Health Specialists with Deputies to learn more about a program that is providing appropriate care for individuals who reach out to police for mental health needs.
  • Read the article Advocates want more police training for mental-health issues to learn more about why there’s a need and a push for mental health training for first responders.
  • View the tip sheet Tips for Disaster Responders: Preventing and Managing Stress from SAMHSA.  This resource identifies stressors that may be involved in work as a disaster responder and lists ways to prevent and manage stress before, during, and after disaster response. The tip sheet also highlights signs of stress and provides related resources for information and support.
  • View the tip sheet Tips for Disaster Responders: Understanding Compassion Fatigue. This SAMHSA tip sheet explains compassion fatigue (CF), the burnout and secondary traumatic stress that first responders can experience, and identifies CF signs and symptoms. It also offers ways responders can build resilience and help prevent CF, and introduces compassion satisfaction as a strategy to protect against CF.
  • View the tip sheet Tips for Disaster Responders: Identifying Substance Misuse in the Responder Community. This SAMHSA tip sheet notes that first responders are at a higher-than-average risk for misusing substances because of their exposure to traumatic and stressful events. It describes warning signs of a substance use disorder, and offers tips for first responders seeking help for themselves or a co-worker.
  • Watch the webinar Self-Care for Disaster Behavioral Health Responders.

Date: 2018