Grit Digital Health Launches YOU/ResponderStrong

By StartUp City | Thursday, September 10, 2020

Rescuing people is like instinctive nature for responders. However, the mental and physical impacts can be debilitating if left unaddressed. Studies have shown that first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

FREMONT, CA: Tech startup engaged in behavioural health, well being, and technology, Grit Digital Health LLC, has partnered with The Anschutz Foundation, Global Medical Response (GMR) and All Clear Foundation to establish YOU | ResponderStrong, the world's first personalized wellness platform for emergency responders. First responders face well-being challenges that put them at higher risk for mental health issues and suicide. Yet, barriers make it challenging to seek out available resources and discuss concerns, leaving many to struggle with these challenges alone.

"Responders shouldn't pay for their service with their lives, either in longevity or quality," said Rhonda Kelly, founder of ResponderStrong and director of health, wellness and resilience for GMR. "Especially now when the stressors are so extreme and prolonged, burnout is on a meteoric rise. The result of our failing to meet our basic human needs, burnout is one of our biggest enemies. This tool is a tremendous aid in supporting our self-care, building our resiliency, and improving our quality of life."

Rescuing people is like instinctive nature for responders. However, the mental and physical impacts can be debilitating if left unaddressed. Studies have shown that first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Nearly 20 to 25 percent of all first responders go through post-traumatic stress, and the life expectancy for first responders is 20 years lower than average. With the help of a human-centered research and design process, the founding partners of you.responderstrong.org have brought together national leaders across various emergency responder verticals to uncover the needs, motivations and challenges of these populations concerning their mental health and well-being. The insights gathered during the process have highlighted the increased pressure and new risks currently threatening emergency responders across the country.

"One challenge that has been clear for first responders is figuring out the balance between being able to perform their jobs and also act in the other roles they fill as parents and spouses," said Caleb Demers, LCSW, who works directly with emergency responders as a clinical social worker and member of the LEADER program at McLean Hospital. "Many patients we work with use a lot of energy attempting to not 'bring the work home,' but now that is a tangible fear with more immediate consequences. We see first responders work very hard to maintain confidence and competence in their roles, but when their supports are not as accessible, it affects their mental health."

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