The Alton Police Department announced its participation in the Reliant First Hero pilot program, which provides mental health wellness services to first responders on Friday afternoon.
“Our participation in this program is just one more step in our commitment to ensuring that our first responders have all the resources they need to take care of their mental health,” said Alton Police Chief, Jonathan B. Flores.
The program is based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and led by Dr. Jose Ventura, MD and his team.
The police chief said officers are exposed to the rigors and see and experience things “your average citizen wouldn’t see”, which has a huge impact on their mental health.
The Alton Police Department currently has support resources such as Market Chaplains, the annual Neck Up Wellness Program checkup with Dr. Ruben Peña, and a strict post-critical incident mental health checkup policy. The Reliant First Hero program will be the agency’s fourth wellness resource.
“This is going to allow participants to remain anonymous and confidential,” Flores said.
Licensed mental health professionals will connect with these first responders to focus on current issues and triggers.
Flores said participating in the program helps eliminate the negative stigma associated with law enforcement seeking mental health help while addressing factors such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, fatigue. , burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Every year, statistics show that first responder suicides continue to be a problem. One is too many, but we continue to see high numbers year after year,” said Flores. Research shows that some of the biggest barriers that exist for our first responders that deter them from seeking treatment are stigma in the workplace.
and fear that the community they serve will view it as a weakness.
According to Flores, reserve officer Tomas Jasso recommended
“He’s very passionate about mental health services because we’re here at the Alton Police Department,” Flores said.
Alton’s PD is also seeking to participate in the Texas Law Enforcement Peer Network, a statewide program designed to give every Texas law enforcement officer access to a specially trained peer to do cope with stressors, trauma, fatigue and other needs to combat self-policing. -abuse and suicide.
“It is our responsibility as administrators to do our part to help break down this stigma and to help educate the community about the importance of mental health intervention for our first responders,” Flores said.