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New training programs for first responders related to stress, PTSD, and other mental health challenges that come with the job

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has announced the initiation of new training programs for emergency personnel to address stress, PTSD, and related disorders. The decision comes in response to a surge in reports of first responder burnout and suicides following the COVID-19 pandemic. First responders, including law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical officials, are at a higher risk of suicide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.


Approximately 30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions, a higher percentage than the general population. To combat this issue, DHSES is launching mental health workshops starting May 18 at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, followed by a session in Albany on May 25. These workshops will be offered throughout the year in partnership with the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz, and are open to staff from all emergency response agencies.

The state has invested $1 billion in its latest budget to tackle mental health crises and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health support. This includes $1 million allocated for suicide prevention efforts targeting veterans, first responders, law enforcement, and correction officers. The training sessions this month will serve as a starting point for the program, with officials planning to gather feedback and increase the frequency of future sessions.