DENVER, Aug. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Grit Digital Health LLC, a tech startup at the intersection of behavioral health, well-being and technology, has partnered with The Anschutz Foundation, Global Medical Response (GMR) and All Clear Foundation to create YOU | ResponderStrong — the world's first personalized wellness platform for emergency responders. Emergency responders face well-being challenges (e.g. shift work, consistent exposure to trauma, and working in high risk environments) that put them at higher risk for mental health issues and suicide, yet barriers make it difficult to seek out available resources and discuss concerns, leaving many to struggle with these challenges alone.
For emergency responders, rescuing others is second nature, but the mental and physical impacts can be debilitating if left unaddressed. Studies show that first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, 20 to 25 percent of all first responders experience post-traumatic stress and the life expectancy of a first responder is 20 years less than average.
"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."
Using a human-centered research and design process, the founding partners of you.responderstrong.org brought together national leaders across various emergency responder verticals (law enforcement, EMS, fire service, dispatch and healthcare workers, etc.) to uncover the needs, motivations and challenges of these populations with respect to their mental health and well-being. The insights gathered during this process highlighted the increased pressure and new risks currently facing 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."
The solution is a digital platform, available 24/7, with hundreds of evidence-based resources and tools to support emergency responders with their personal and professional well-being. The first platform of its kind, YOU | ResponderStrong uses a tailored profile and proprietary health assessments to personalize the experience for each emergency responder that creates an account. The platform delivers customized online resources and tools across three areas of well-being: Succeed (financial and career success), Thrive (mental and physical health) and Matter (purpose and connections). The foundations of this comprehensive approach lie in Grit Digital Health's proprietary well-being model.
"High stress work environments invariably lead to stress that carries into one's personal life," said Nathaan Demers, Psy.D., VP and director of clinical programs at Grit Digital Health. "It's essential that we support the comprehensive well-being of emergency responders by decreasing the stigma and providing educational resources regarding how to support peers, as well as oneself. This is especially important in times of heightened stress, as we see now in light of COVID-19."
The platform is built on a research-backed tool called YOU, a personalized well-being software created for college campuses and later expanded to serve rural veterans, community mental health centers, workplace wellness and now emergency responders. The platform provides an experience aligned with key research insights gathered from emergency responders: maintaining confidentiality, keeping data secure, including crisis information and providing 24/7 access to support any need any time. Data provided to tap into the platform's personalization algorithm is completely anonymous, an essential aspect in building trust with emergency responders using the platform.
"Emergency Responders sacrifice more than most and shoulder unfathomable burdens to keep us all safe," said Janell Farr, president of All Clear Foundation. "They are so focused on helping others that they often don't take time to help themselves. And if they would like to, options have previously been limited. With YOU | ResponderStrong, responders can now easily assess their overall well-being and immediately access content to enhance their health, well-being and everything in-between."
The platform is currently undergoing further testing and iteration efforts. Grit Digital Health will collaborate with the founding partner organizations to roll out a second version of the ResponderStrong wellness tool in fall 2020. The release will include learnings from testing with emergency responders and analysis of impact/engagement data. See the tool in action by visiting you.responderstrong.org.
About Grit Digital Health
Grit Digital Health develops behavioral health and well-being solutions through design and technology that envision a new way to approach mental health and well-being. The company solves complex health problems through innovation and creativity, including products that address veteran transitions to civilian life, student loneliness and well-being, employee satisfaction and the mental health of working-age men. For more information, visit www.gritdigitalhealth.com.
About All Clear Foundation
All Clear Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 supporting First Responders by creating, convening, amplifying and funding innovative programs to improve their life expectancy and wellbeing – as well as the wellbeing of their families. In addition to YOU | ResponderStrong, the foundation has curated a First Responder Resource Database with thousands of resources for responders and their families, and recently launched ResponderRel8, a peer-to-peer chat app that enables First Responders to connect, celebrate and commiserate with peers without fear or stigma getting in the way, and anonymously if they choose. To learn more about All Clear Foundation's programs or to join the cause, visit AllClearFoundation.org.
About The Anschutz Foundation
Founded in 1984, The Anschutz Foundation was created by Philip F. Anschutz as a private charitable foundation. Over three decades, the foundation has given substantially to hundreds of nonprofit organizations primarily concentrated in Colorado. The Anschutz Foundation currently makes more than 500 grants annually. In 2016, The Anschutz Foundation received the Outstanding Foundation award from National Philanthropy Day in Colorado. This annual event celebrates exceptional philanthropic and volunteer contributions in Colorado. For more information, visit theanschutzfoundation.org.
With more than 38,000 employees, Global Medical Response teams deliver compassionate, quality medical care, primarily in the areas of emergency and patient relocation services in the United States, the District of Columbia and around the world. GMR was formed by combining the industry leaders in air, ground, managed medical transportation, and community, industrial/specialty and wildland fire services. Each of our companies have long histories of proudly serving the communities where we live: American Medical Response (AMR), Rural Metro Fire, Air Evac Lifeteam, REACH Air Medical Services, Med-Trans Corporation, AirMed International and Guardian Flight. Combined, we completed 4.9 million patient transports last year utilizing 7,000 ground vehicles, 111 fire vehicles, 306 rotor-wing aircraft and 106 fixed-wing aircraft. We are the largest medical transport company in the world, focusing on intimate and high-service solutions at a local level. For more information, visit globalmedicalresponse.com.
SOURCE Grit Digital Health LLC