By News Staff
SAN DIEGO —San Diego County Board of Supervisors greenlit a mental health program for first responders that gives them quick and confidential access to mental health professionals.
The Captain Ryan J. Mitchell First Responder Behavioral Health Program aims to remove barriers to treatment through immediate access to specialists via a dedicated phone line, smartphone app or website. Officials are also launching an education campaign, Fox 5 reported.
Once first responders contact specialists, they will stay in touch with them throughout the treatment.
“First responders put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe,” Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said. “This is the least we can do.”
The program was named after CAL FIRE Capt. Ryan Mitchell, who died by suicide in 2017. The idea for the program came to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher after conducting a listening tour with first responders earlier this year.
Mitchell’s father, William Mitchell, thanked officials for approving the program and said that sharing his son’s story allows them to heal after the loss.
“We’ll never know what (circumstances) pushed Ryan to take his life,” his dad said. “I was just a firefighter dad and loved watching him excel in a career he loved.”