Kettering Health Network focuses on first responder mental health with new therapy program

Local News

MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – Kettering Health Network is focusing on first responders’ mental health with a new program. “After the Call” is the first of its kind in the Dayton area.

It’s a four to six week program where the first responders use intensive group therapy to process the continued trauma that they experience because of their job.

KHN said in a release, some studies find up to 30 percent of first responders develop behavioral health conditions like anxiety or PTSD. A new program that just launched at the Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center in Moraine tries to address this.

“They are routinely exposed to repeated traumas throughout their shifts, throughout their careers, and what we’ve seen is there is cumulative trauma over the course of time that creates a lot of stress in their daily lives and functioning within their job,” said the Clinical Program Manager, Julie Manuel.

Manuel said “After the Call” is their fourth outpatient program but the first in the area to focus on emergency personnel. She said the first responders have nine to 12 hours per week for counseling sessions.

“You may be dealing with a trauma and anxiety and someone else may be dealing with some substance abuse issues and trauma, so everyone is coming in with an individualized treatment plan but coming in and dealing with those things in a group setting,” said Manuel.

A spokesperson for Dayton Police told 2 NEWS in a statement,

“The Dayton Police Department has been thrilled to be able to collaborate with Kettering Health Network’s First Responder Programs, like After the Call, from the early onset.  We fully support this program and are very happy with KHN’s willingness to assist first responders who may be struggling with trauma, depression, or other mental health challenges.  The availability of this kind of program to local first responders will make a difference if they decide they need to reach out for help, while also fighting the stigma of asking for help. We have worked with Kettering Health Network to educate other local hospitals and agencies about the First Responder Programs and refer people to them as necessary.

In early 2020, Kettering Health Network assisted our department in wellness training that was mandatory for all members.  We continue to collaborate with them on wellness programs and trainings for our officers so they are educated and aware of available resources.”

After the Call had a soft launch in March but then COVID-19 hit so Manuel said their numbers right now are small. They want to keep the groups intimate but are open to those who are struggling.

“It’s difficult with first responders to get them to come in for mental health treatment but we want to make it as easy as possible so we’re removing as many barriers as we can,” said Manuel.

This program is open to police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, EMS/EMT, and healthcare workers.

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