Mental Health Association Providing Free Online Resources To First Responders


Monday, April 13th 2020, 2:13 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero


Mental health experts say COVID-19 cases are expected to peak in Oklahoma on April 21st. In addition to concerns about the virus, many experts are worried about the mental health of first responders. 

Chief Michael Baker is the Director of Emergency Medical Services for the Tulsa Fire Department. He told News on 6 first responders need help during this pandemic as they face physical and mental challenges.

"This is the healthcare workers' 9-11," says Baker. "The number one thing is simply being available and offer some solutions that are timely and talk them through the situation," Baker explained. 

The Mental Health Association of Oklahoma wanted to do just that and give first responders a way to join support groups online.  It's for police officers, firefighters, as well as emergency and medical personnel. The groups meet virtually using the Zoom app and are facilitated by a mental health professional. 

Outreach director Rebecca Hubbard says COVID-19 is a silent enemy with silent symptoms that can surface later on. "We are running a race right now and at the same time, we are trying to catch our breath and be prepared for the struggles people may experience," Hubbard told News on 6. 

Hubbard says post-traumatic stress symptoms may show up later or - even after the peak of the pandemic. First responders may have Nightmares, Flashbacks, Anxiety, Anger, or addictions. 

"It is natural for us to feel fear when we are under threat, that is completely, entirely normal; it is when we are feeling fear to an inordinate amount is when it interfered with our functioning -- that's when we really need to seek help." 

Baker says the battle with COVID-19 is far from over -- and post-recovery is critical. "If we start now, by letting folks know the availability of services, that burden may lessen," Baker said. 

The group sessions are free. For a full schedule of upcoming virtual group sessions for first responders, you can click HERE

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