Online and text-based tools and mobile apps can improve access to mental health support and resources.
Distributing these tools to personnel and even their families can also go a long way to send a message of support and destigmatize mental health needs brought on by the demands of public safety work. This technology can play an important role in mental health awareness and symptom prevention. Employee wellness apps accessible via smartphones are being increasingly adopted by public safety agencies.
Such online self-help tools can serve as initial steps for employees to take as they build the courage to seek more intensive, in-person help.
Web and mobile tool examples
Cordico: Cordico, now owned by Lexipol, offers wellness apps for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders. These have been well received across the country – one chief noted that they put the app on every department-issued phone. The law enforcement app, called CordicoShield, gives officers access to a range of wellness programs and services on their phone or other mobile device. For example, the Wellness Toolkit on the app includes information about family support, financial fitness, healthy habits, psychological first aid, marriage guidance, and other topics. The app also includes a variety of self-scoring assessment tools, allowing officers to quickly obtain feedback about their wellness.
First Responder Toolkit: The First Responder Toolkit was created at the University of Minnesota by College of Education and Human Development researchers in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health. This is a free app that uses an interactive platform to help first responders prevent, mitigate, and promote recovery from compassion fatigue. The University of Minnesota said the toolkit will be further developed to include enhanced features to fit individuals’ specific needs.
Interactive Screening Program: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) developed an online tool called the Interactive Screening Program (ISP) that provides a confidential way for individuals to take a brief self-check quiz for stress, depression, and other mental health conditions, and if they wish, to obtain information about treatment resources.
PTSD Coach: Created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), PTSD Coach offers everything from a self-assessment for PTSD, to opportunities to find support, positive self-talk, and anger management. What’s great about this app is that you can customize tools based on your own individual needs and preferences, and integrate your own contacts, photos, and music.