Let’s Talk Interactive Launches 24/7/365 Mental Health Support Network for Firefighters in Florida Panhandle

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Let’s Talk Interactive Inc., in collaboration with the 2nd Alarm Project, Florida A&M University and the University of West Florida, today announces the launch of a custom telecounseling therapy program and benefit package that enables firefighters in the Florida Panhandle to have access to a 24/7/365 professional mental health network.

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"With up to 37 percent of firefighters experiencing PTSD and depression rates five times higher than the general population, we know they need experts to talk to and who are trained in the type of support they need,” shared Arthur Cooksey, Founder and CEO of Let’s Talk Interactive.

Telehealth solutions provider partners with 2nd Alarm Project and Florida Universities on custom app

Let's Talk Interactive (LTI), in collaboration with the 2nd Alarm Project, Florida A&M University (FAMU) and the University of West Florida (UWF), today announces the launch of a custom telecounseling therapy program and benefit package that enables firefighters in the Florida Panhandle to have access to a 24/7/365 professional mental health network. Funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 3,500 career, volunteer and retired firefighters across the Panhandle will be able to get the support they need right when they need it—connecting directly with specially trained behavioral healthcare providers via tele-counseling. The telehealth services went live June 27, 2020.

The new program addresses two key challenges firefighters in the Florida Panhandle region experience when it comes to accessing care—local proximity and cultural barriers. Many counties in the region have severe local mental health provider shortages (HPSAs) which were exacerbated by Hurricane Michael. These counties include Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Leon, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwanee, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington. Firefighters who are residents of the disaster impacted areas as well as first responders in the community remain at high risk for behavioral health and substance use issues. Ongoing feelings of stigma, pride, shame, misunderstandings about mental health concerns, and employment culture continue to prohibit firefighters from accessing mental health support locally.

“As our world evolves, our bravest continue to face challenges fighting the effects of disasters and are put to the test on a daily basis. With up to 37 percent of firefighters experiencing PTSD and depression rates five times higher than the general population, we know they need experts to talk to and who are trained in the type of support they need,” shared Arthur Cooksey, Founder and CEO of Let’s Talk Interactive. “This is why we are excited to partner with the 2nd Alarm Project to launch custom telehealth technology and a provider network service specifically for firefighters in the Florida Panhandle—bringing them greater and immediate access to healthcare exactly when, how and where they need it.”

The 2nd Alarm Project offers behavioral health resources to firefighters and fire departments across the Florida Panhandle. Made up of members of the fire service in the region, as well as clinicians and researchers from local universities including FAMU and UWF, LTI and the partners of 2nd Alarm Project have helped to develop a free app that includes mental health resources all in one location. Everything contained within the app is completely confidential.

Features of the app include:

  • Get help now – one stop access to resources for someone experiencing a mental health crisis, along with information on the suicide prevention network
  • Tele-counseling (through LTI) – free access to a licensed clinician with experience in helping first responders over the phone as well as referrals to appropriate clinicians within the area
  • Firefighter wellness toolkit and self-assessments – further information and research regarding common wellness issues among first-responders
  • Peer support – lists of all available peer support resources in the area

“We’ve seen a lot of advancements in technology that connect first responders and medical professionals with the goal to improve patient care,” added Dr. Kellie O’Dare, 2nd Alarm Project Co-Director. “However, it’s time we dedicate resources to develop advancements in technology that support the behavioral health needs of our first responders. We’re thrilled to partner with LTI to offer career, volunteer and retired firefighters a novel solution—a customized benefits package, specialized provider network and easy access and scheduling flexibility—all of which is key in serving this population

About Let’s Talk Interactive
Let’s Talk Interactive, Inc. is a complete end-to-end telehealth solutions provider, arming health professionals with cutting-edge Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) video conferencing software, kiosks and medical carts, network solutions, virtual clinics, and safe and secure online video conferencing capabilities while giving those in need instant access to care through its innovative technology platform. The company’s telemedicine solutions are FEMA-approved in every state and GSA-certified, enabling providers to offer care at any time, from any location in the world and patients to directly connect to a licensed medical professional in real-time.

For more information about Let’s Talk Interactive and the latest news about its COVID-19 efforts, visit http://www.letstalkinteractive.com, or email us at hello@letstalkinteractive.com.

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