Clinical care can take many different forms and are ways of helping first responders recover from the negative impacts due to the stress of the job. These include mental health issues and/or substance use disorders. Counseling and more specialized psychotherapies seek to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations. Medications can provide symptom relief and help manage symptoms to the point where people can use other strategies to pursue recovery. For many people, the most effective behavioral health approach involves a combination of counseling and medication. No single treatment works best and each treatment plan should be individualized to address each person’s needs and symptoms.
A trained professional should do a full evaluation to make a diagnosis.
When seeking treatment, it is important to self-identify as a first responder to ensure the professional is culturally competent and can effectively work with a first responder.
Inpatient psychiatric Treatment: This is the highest level of care available in the mental health system. This level of care is provided in a locked hospital setting and is necessary when the individual is an imminent risk to himself or others. This risk can be posed in a direct or indirect manner. For example, the direct risk is associated with actual attempts or threats to harm self or others. Indirect risk can mean engaging in behavior that creates risk (i.e. high-risk behavior associated with mania) or displaying an inability to care for one’s basic needs.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Step down from inpatient or an intervention to prevent inpatient treatment— PHP refers to a comprehensive, short-term, intensive, clinical treatment program. Programs usually run M-F about 6 hours a day for 2 weeks. While in PHP, the client will typically participate in a group and see the program psychiatrist. Some PHP programs offer individual sessions, but the sessions are limited in their scope. Candidates for participation in a PHP should have the capacity to develop insight into their presenting problems and be willing to work on a goal-directed treatment plan to address them.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Step down from PHP and inpatient, or an intervention to prevent inpatient care. IOP can benefit someone who needs a longer duration of intensive care than what PHP provides since it lasts for up to 12 weeks. The typical IOP program offers group and individual services 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. IOP can last anywhere between 6 weeks to 12 weeks. Some programs are mental health-focused, substance user-focused, or both (dual diagnosis). Most IOPs have evening hours, which may make them more appealing than PHPs because they are not missing work. Candidates for participation in an IOP should have the capacity to develop insight into their presenting problems and be willing to work on a goal-directed treatment plan to address them.
Individual therapy: Usually conducted weekly or bi-weekly. The patient is functional in most life domains and needs assistance working through a specific issue, or just requires overall support that can be provided in a talk therapy setting.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP): is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. EAPs address a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders. EAP counselors also work in a consultative role with managers and supervisors to address employee and organizational challenges and needs.
Medication Management: Typically occurs once a month or once every 3 months. Appointments focus on the review of symptoms and medication adjustments.
Insurance may or may not pay for treatment: There are many psychiatrists and individual therapists that do not accept private insurance. This is due to many factors, but mostly low reimbursement rates. Make sure individuals that elect to use their insurance plans double-check with the provider to ensure they accept insurance.