Supporting the Mental Health of Emergency Medical Services Personnel
Special Projects Fund
March 17, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented trauma, anxiety, and stress for many frontline health care workers, who risk their own health and safety to care for others.
Emergency medical services (EMS) workers are among those who have borne the acute stress of the pandemic. They have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infection, leading to shortages in an already-strained workforce. As the pandemic persists, EMS workers continue to experience acute stress and burnout. Despite the clear need, accessing and accepting mental health assistance has been a problem within the EMS community because of stigma, cost of treatment, and lack of access to mental health providers. In addition, EMS operates in a private sector that often does not include comprehensive health benefits, contributing to this treatment gap. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City (the Council) a grant to expand a mental health wellness initiative to New York City’s EMS workers.
Under this grant, the Council will expand its existing Mental Wellness Team program, which offers peer support teams in each borough, a 24-hour hotline, and a referral line for mental health care providers, to 7,000 EMS workers in New York City. It will manage the program, train staff and EMS peers, and meet with EMS agencies across the City to raise awareness about the program. It will also provide training to EMS workers and mental health providers on critical incident response intervention and suicide prevention that have shown to be effective in the first responder community. The Council will expand the size of the mental health team, including a team lead for each borough. Finally, it will offer mental health support programming through educational meetings and workshops open to the entire New York City EMS community. Workshops will be led by mental health professionals and will offer an opportunity for EMS workers to learn about the mental health support program, discuss mental health topics, and provide feedback to the Council regarding their needs.