New app inspires first responders to talk mental health

Firefighters work tirelessly and heroically saving lives every day. What many people don’t consider is the toll, both physically and mentally, that it takes on them and their families. Unfortunately, many firefighters (and their families) don’t seek the help that they need to cope with the stressful situations that they encounter. Sometimes they may need help to get past an isolated traumatic event but oftentimes they just need support to cope with the build-up of day to day stress and family tensions.  

“Firefighters a lot of times don’t seek mental health treatment, and when they do….they are a lot of times dissatisfied because therapists don’t necessarily know much about firefighter culture or the stressors that they face,” said Dr. Angela Moreland, Co-Director of the Center for Firefighter Behavioral Health at the Medical University of South Carolina. “So we developed Helping Heroes, which is an online resource that basically gives additional training to therapists in how to work with firefighters.”

The firefighters and family members can use the app to connect with therapists specially trained to help with their unique situations. It can also connect them with other firefighters for daily support and provides an outlet for their families, as well. The app allows firefighters to get the help they need to decompress from the trauma of their jobs.

“I wouldn’t tell some of my best friends some of the things that I go through. I’m going to talk with them, but I wouldn’t explain, in detail, you know things that I’ve seen or been through or done,” said Jeremiah Moree, of the North Charleston Fire Department.

Veteran firefighters don’t want this new generation of firefighters to face the same stress that they have had to face throughout their careers. Apps such as Helping Heroes go a long way toward making that a reality. 

“In this day and time a lot of our young fellas are tied to their cell phones and their laptops… And so we get a chance to get them brand new before they’ve been tainted by old careers and bad thoughts. We’ve got to keep them in a good place, and that’s what this is about,” said Gerald Mishoe, Executive Director of the Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team.