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Mental Health Resiliency for First Responders

WRHSAC recognizes the greatest assets in any first responder organization are first responders themselves. First responders encounter stressful situations on a daily basis. Their experiences of potentially traumatic incidents are greater than those seen in most other occupations. This reality places tremendous stress on the nervous system and overall health of team members.

WRHSAC is proud to announce the first phase of this project –  a training focused on supporting first responder leadership to create positive mental health work environments.

The training is Building Healthy Workplaces: How to promote mental health in first responder organizations. The training includes two parts:  an online, self-paced introduction followed by a more comprehensive interactive, virtual, four-session series.

The Introduction to Building Healthy Workplaces provides the basis to support informed dialogue and participation during the more in-depth virtual series. The Introduction is available via WRHSAC’s new online learning management system at The training is free and accessible after a simple registration process. Follow the links on the page.

The second part of the training, Building Healthy Workplaces, offers deeper discussion and planning to support first responder leadership towards promoting positive mental wellbeing within their organizations. Delivered as a four-session series, the training will be conducted over four consecutive weeks via Zoom ‘live’ online on the following dates in 2021: January 22, 29, February 5, 12 (all sessions 10 a.m. to noon.)

Participation in Building Healthy Workplaces is prioritized for first responder leadership in Western Massachusetts. Submitted applications will be reviewed to ensure participants are in a leadership role. Attendance at all four sessions is recommended. This is an interactive training and access to audio and visual capabilities are required. Submit your interest soon, as class size is limited.

The introduction training is a prerequisite for participating in the Building Healthy Workplaces four-session series. 


Project History

In early 2019, WRHSAC embarked on the First Responder Mental Health Resiliency project.  Conversations with regional stakeholders and research on available best practices led WRHSAC to determine that a program to assist leadership in developing and fostering positive mental health work environments would be key to building individual and team mental health resiliency.

WRHSAC’s approach is modeled on British Columbia, Canada’s WorkSafeBC First Responders’ Mental Health Committee. WRHSAC engaged two mental health clinicians familiar with the unique concerns of first responders to engage with the WorkSafeBC project and to adapt it to the needs of Western Massachusetts first responder agencies. As experienced mental health clinicians, our facilitators Calla Harrington LCSW, MSW, MPH and Lillian Lennox LMHC, MA, C-iRest, E-RYT 500 bring important mental health definitions, concepts and offer a multidisciplinary approach drawing from many perspectives.

Members of the BC First Responder Mental Health Committee have made our team aware of their upcoming (January through March 2021) webinar series BC First Responders’ Mental Health Speaker Series: Leadership for the Mental Health of your Workplace and have extended an invitation to our region’s first responder leaders to attend. The series will focus on actively developing the knowledge and skills of first responders in leadership positions, so they can take a proactive approach to promoting positive mental health in their organizations. Those interested in attending one or all of the speaker series can register here.

We are grateful to WorkSafe BC for their generosity in sharing their expertise, materials and their ongoing support of our project. We recommend attending their webinar series as we anticipate it will be excellent given our interaction with the WorkSafeBC team and their dedication to supporting first responders.