The Alton Police Department announced its participation in the Reliant First Hero Pilot Program, which provides mental health wellness services to first responders Friday afternoon.
“Our participation in this program is just another step in our commitment to ensure that our first responders have all the resources available to them 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 staff.
The Chief of Police said officers are exposed to rigor and see and experience things that “your average citizen would not see,” which impact their mental health immensely.
The Alton Police Department currently has support resources such as Marketplace Chaplains, Check Up from the Neck Up Annual Wellness Program with Dr. Ruben Peña, and a strict post-critical incident mental health check-up policy. The Reliant First Hero Program will be the fourth wellness resource for the agency.
“It’s going to provide the ability for participants to remain anonymous and confidential,” said Flores.
Licensed mental health professionals will connect with those first responders in order to focus on current problems and triggers.
Flores said the participation in the program aids in removing the negative stigma associated with law enforcement seeking mental health help while struggling with factors such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, fatigue, burnout, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“Every year, statistics demonstrate that first responder suicides continue to be an issue. One is too many, yet 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 which deter them from seeking treatment are workplace stigma
and the fear that the community they serve will view it as a weakness.”
According to Flores, Reserve Officer Tomas Jasso recommended
“He is very passionate about mental health services as we are here at the Alton Police Department,” said Flores.
The Alton PD is also seeking to participate with the Texas Law Enforcement Peer Network, a state-wide program designed to give every Texas law enforcement officer access to a specially trained peer to address stressors, trauma, fatigue, and other needs to combat police self-harm and suicide.
“It is our responsibility as administrators to do our part to help eliminate that stigma and to help educate the community on the importance of mental health intervention for our first responders,” Flores said.