As Truckee Meadows Fire immortalizes one of its own, Northern Nevada Peer Support Network hoping to destigmatize mental illness in first responders

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 8:59 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It’s OK to not be OK. That’s the message from the Northern Nevada Peer Support Network, created to provide an outlet for local first responders dealing with mental illness.

On Monday, the NNPSN introduced its services inside the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District’s Station 40 in Mogul. At the same time, they honored Tyler Ewald - a former TMPFD firefighter who committed suicide in June of 2019 at the age of 32.

The Ewald family was on hand as the station unveiled a framed display with Ewald’s jacket inside. The display now sits above the station’s busiest door, leading in and out of the garage.

Original Press Release from Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue:

September is Suicide Prevention Month.  On Monday, September 28, at 10:30 a.m., join Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue along with other first-responder organizations and hospital health care professionals to introduce the Northern Nevada Peer Support Network, designed to serve the mental needs of our region’s first responders.  The event will be held at TMFPD Station 40, 10201 W. Fourth St.

The mission of the NNPSN is to provide quality mental health resources and support to our community’s first responders including members of the military and health care professionals, so they may live the very best lives possible on and off duty.

The Network accomplishes its mission with collaborative efforts by vetted culturally competent licensed behavioral health clinicians.  The goal is to improve resiliency of first responders by breaking down barriers surrounding the stigma of mental health and offering support, guidance, and counsel.

The Network includes representatives from a diverse contingent of emergency workers to include fire service and law enforcement, emergency medical services, hospitals, 9-1-1 dispatchers, armed forces, and even ski patrol.  Crisis incident stress management groups along with chaplains also have an active role in the Network to provide support for emotional and spiritual needs.

In June 2019, Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue lost a firefighter to suicide.  A display created in the memory of Tyler Ewald will be unveiled at Monday’s event.  Tyler’s death helped to inspire the unification of first responders throughout our region and built awareness of the importance of the mental health needs of our dedicated emergency response professionals.

Firefighter and law enforcement suicides have exceeded line of duty deaths for the past 5 years. First responders experience a higher rate of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.  Approximately 20 percent of first responders have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD can have devastating consequences if untreated and is often associated with other behavioral health problems such as depression, substance abuse, family dysfunction, violence and increased risk of suicide.

NNPSN has developed an active website that includes important resources and tools to serve the mental health needs of our first responders and their families.

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