Mental health resources expanding for local first responders

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Soaking in a wide range of tragedies on day to day basis, police officers don’t always have the time to emotionally process what they’ve seen.

According to a recent study, 188 police officers have died by suicide so far this year, which is twice the number that have died in the line of duty.

Departments across the country, including the Horry County Police Department, are expanding their mental health resources.

“Myself included, you see things that obviously most normal individuals are not going to be confronted with in their lives, you see things and you see traumas that are just tough to deal with,” said Captain Harrelson of the Horry County Police Department.

Focusing on physical and mental health, the department offers peer counseling, guidance from local church leaders, and new holistic philosophies.

Recently, Captain Harrelson says they’ve been focusing on “BESTOW”.

“Bestow is an acronym for ‘Beyond Survival Toward Office Wellness’, it’s a holistic approach that a lot of it is educational driven. Basically giving officers a toolbox of coping mechanisms,”

Local libraries have also added books to their shelves catered to mental health for first responders.

A spokesperson for HorryCounty Fire Rescue says they strongly utilize their peer program and firefighters are trained to identify red flags that a fellow responder might be showing.

“We are never going to keep someone in a situation for too long so they are constantly looking and saying ‘Is this person getting stressed out?'” said Tony Casey.

He says fire and police have common stresses but also different.

“The nature of the calls being very medical heavy, you have to be okay with blood, scrapes, death, mixed with long hours, it can get very stressful in someone’s mind, so we like think we have the tools place to help them,” said Casey.

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