About The Code Green Campaign
The Code Green Campaign, aka Code Green is a first responder oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Code Green serves all types of first responders, including firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, police, corrections, air medical, and search & rescue. We take our name from combining the color of the mental health awareness ribbon, green, and from the “code alerts” that EMS uses to designate an emergency patient. For example, if someone is having a stroke or heart attack that needs rapid intervention, first responders will tell the hospital the patient is having a “code stroke” or “code STEMI”. The idea is that Code Green is calling a code alert on the mental health of first responders.
The campaign has two main goals. Our primary goal is raising awareness of the high rates of things like PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide among first responders. Our secondary goal is providing education for responders on how to provide care for themselves and recognize issues in their peers. We also work towards educating first responders about reducing stress and reducing the stigma along with improving access to mental health care.
The primary way the campaign raises awareness is by giving first responders an outlet to tell the story of their mental health issues anonymously, and then republishing those stories so they can be viewed by everyone. This allows us to see what each other have really gone through, and allows those of us who are struggling to understand that we are not alone. It also allows those who do not have first hand experience with mental health issues to see that mental health issues can affect anyone, which will hopefully decrease the stigma.
To bring awareness to the high rates of mental health issues in first responders and reduce them. To eliminate the stigma that prevents people from admitting these issues and asking for help. To educate first responders on self and peer care and to lobby for systemic change in how mental health issues are addressed by first responder agencies.
The Code Green Campaign was founded in March of 2014 by a group of EMS professionals after they became aware of the high rate of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and suicide among first responders. Once they became aware of the issues, they also became alarmed at the lack of discussion about mental health and suicide, along with the lack of education and resources available for first responders. Code Green was initially founded as a storytelling project. The founders agreed that if there is one thing that first responders like to do, it is tell stories. They thought that if they gave people a way to tell their stories anonymously it may help jump start the discussion and reduce the stigma. Since then, Code Green has published a story every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
In April of 2014 The Code Green Campaign was granted nonprofit status in their home state, the first step towards becoming a federal 501(c)(3) organization. In December of 2014 the IRS approved Code Green’s application to be classified as a public charity operating as a 501(c)(3) organization.
Since Code Green was founded in March of 2014 we have:
– Collected 380 stories
to raise awareness and remind providers that no one is suffering alone.
– Educated tens of thousands about mental health, resilience, and available resources via social media (including a semi-regular column in EMS1) and at public events.
– Increased reporting of public safety suicides by 100%, leading to a better understanding of the core issue
– Created a database of approximately 100 city, state, and international crisis and long-term mental health resources predominantly specializing in public safety providers, the first of its kind.
– Provided peer support and crisis referral for hundreds of providers.
We have also referred people for mental health treatment, raised awareness though merchandise sales, developed education, and consulted with agencies among many other activities aimed at improving the mental health of first responders everywhere.
At the top of this list are crisis resources. This is who you can call when you need help immediately. If you scroll down you can find a list of national resources such as trauma retreats and treatment centers, along with a state-by-state list of resources, and lists for Canada and other countries.
A 24/7 help line staffed by first responders for first responders and their family members. They can assist with treatment options for responders who are suffering from mental health, substance abuse and other personal issues.
Also known as The Fire/EMS Helpline. A program run by the National Volunteer Fire Council. They have a help line, and have also collected a list of many good resources for people looking for help and support.
The national (USA) suicide hotline. Not first responder specific, but they can and will talk to anyone who needs help. We’ve been told by one of their founders they have a large number of first responders and veterans who volunteer.
Another national (USA) hotline for people suffering from mental health issues.
Veterans Crisis Line (Veterans only)- 1-800-273-8255 & press 1, or text 838255
A crisis line specifically for veterans of the US armed forces.
Copline (Law Enforcement Only) – 1-800-267-5463
A confidential helpline for members of US law enforcement. Their website also has additional information on help and resources.
A service that allows people in crisis to speak with a trained crisis counselor by texting 741741.
This list includes thousands of local call numbers for every state in the US. Calling a local number can help put you in contact with nearby resources like counselors or psychiatrists faster than calling a national line
Are you looking for education for yourself or your agency? We have complied a list of groups who offer first responder and healthcare worker specific courses. Please follow the links to learn more about a particular course.
The Code Green Campaign – We offer a CECBEMS approved continuing education class on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The class can be taught live online or live in person.
QPR institute – Firefighter/EMS suicide prevention course. They also offer train-the-trainer classes for people who want to host a live class.
Emotional Trauma Life Support – (In development) – A 16 hour course designed to help first responders address potentially emotionally traumatic situations and give them the tools to manage those situations.
Mental Health First Aid – Course designed to teach people how to recognize the signs of mental illness and substance abuse, and how to encourage people to get help.
Safe Call Now – Non-profit run by first responders, for first responders. They host in person classes aimed at reducing the stigma and providing peer support.
Tema Conter Memorial Trust – Canadian resource for first responders that offers classes in training and peer support.
Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance – A non-profit aimed at educating first responders about behavioral health issues and reducing suicide. They offer different workshops on education and suicide prevention.
Share The Load – Run by the National Volunteer Fire Council, this program has several courses and webinars available aimed at educating responders on how to deal with some of the job specific stresses we face.
Peer Support Central – A training and consulting service that provides first responder specific classes on peer support and wellness programs.
LEOTTA – Offers a “Stress and the Telecommunicator” course. This course will assist students in identifying the different types of stress that affect professional telecommunicators and explain the causes, signs and symptoms of these stressors
911 Training Institute/911 Wellness foundation – Founded by a licensed psychologist with experience in EMDR. His organizations provide stress and resiliency education to dispatchers and other first responders.
Vital Hearts: The Resiliency Training Initiative – A 501(c)3 charitable organization whose mission is caring for care-providers. Secondary or vicarious trauma is a significant, although hidden problem for those in our society who treat the emotionally traumatized. Their program, the Secondary Trauma Resiliency Training offers a comprehensive approach to Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue.
International Critical Incident Stress Foundation – The developer of the official CISM/CISD program. They offer a wide variety of classes and seminars on becoming CISM/CISD trained and putting together a CISM/CISD team.
Simon Fraser University First Responder Trauma Management Program – Burnaby, B.C. – Beginning 2016 – A part time program comprised of both hands-on and online courses. The goal of the program is to help first responders mitigate the impact of traumatic events in their own lives and offer support to their colleagues.