Mental health becoming a priority for first responders amid mental health crisis

30% of first responders are reported to have depression or PTSD.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 3:55 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The mental health crisis continues to impact people across the Gem State.

There have been five suicides in Twin Falls County since the start of 2023.

“During the last several months we have seen a rise of people who are in crisis, whether we are doing welfare checks on people, somebody calls in who is suicidal to the 9-8-8 hotline, We have definitely seen a rise in those types of cases,” said Lori Stewart, the president of Magic Valley Suicide Awareness and Prevention.

As the President of Magic Valley Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Stewart says Idaho ranks 12th highest for completed suicide, and the impacts are felt throughout the entire community.

“You know anytime there is a completed suicide, the ripple effect is huge, there are so many people that this person knew and loved this person, it’s a huge impact on the community in full,” said Stewart.

First responders are affected by the mental health crisis as well.

30% of first responders are reported to have depression or PTSD.

Sgt. Ken Mencl with the Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office says the stigma surrounding mental health in first responders is one they are trying to break.

“We check in with our people regularly, if we see that there is someone who is struggling with what they’ve been involved with and working that scene, whether it be one of our deputies or one of our civilian search and rescue members, we have resources that are available and we point them to those resources,” said Sgt. Mencl.

He says taking care of your mental health should be as commonplace as eating healthy and exercising, and it needs to be treated that way for first responders as well.

“Some of these different types of cognitive behavioral therapy that is out there, that counselors can work with our first responders in, can help, can make a big difference when they are pointed in that right direction,” said Sgt. Mencl.