POMEROY — Local agencies are teaming up to serve those who serve their communities.
The Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board Executive Director Robin Harris, Deputy Director Angie Stowers and Meigs County Health Department Administrator Courtney Midkiff were joined by representatives from area first responder agencies on Monday morning to launch a new campaign to help area first responders.
“The resource you share may be the resource you need” is the theme for the campaign which provides resource bags to law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS personnel who serve as first responders in Meigs County.
The resource bags are a partnership between the ADAMH Board and the health department.
Harris explained that nationwide there is a lot of attention on what is happening in the first responder community. A recent study showed that more police officers are dying as a result of suicide than in the line of duty, said Harris. That, coupled with a study earlier this year from Ohio University showing Meigs County with the third highest suicide rate in the state lead to the focus of the ADAMH Board. (Jackson County was the highest in the state).
Those studies have lead to a lot of attention through local coalitions and strategic planning committees to see what can be done.
In recent years, there has been a focus on youth suicide rates, and Harris noted that those rates are lower in this area compared to some others, but that the rate among adults is higher.
Mental health and the stigma around it were also the focus of one area of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) created by the Meigs County Health Department and its partners.
Midkiff noted that the mental health and substance abuse subcommittee from the CHIP turned its focus toward the first responder community and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“You are our heroes, we want to take care of you,” said Midkiff to the first responders in attendance.
Included in the resource bag are a mental health provider guide, magnets which can be placed in the vehicles, information on the campaign and a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder information sheet, said Stowers.
While these resources may be useful to help those the first responders encounter on calls, the hope is that the first responder him/her self will use the resources if they have the need.
Harris noted that in addition to the crisis line which a person may call for help, there is a crisis text line for which the information is included. She added that with the text line the person can remain anonymous while connecting with a counselor who can help them through the situation and provide information and assistance. The only time that the conversation would go from being anonymous is if the counselor feels the person is in immediate danger of harming them self. The text line is a nationwide line.
Over the next few weeks, Harris and Stowers will be going to the agencies and department delivering the bags for the first responders.
Additionally, Stowers stated there will be a social media campaign through the ADAMH board which will focus on self care, as well as providing tips and information.
For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/gjmboard/.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.