Leaders prepare for rescuers’ mental health needs after Hurricane Ian

Tropical Weather
Posted at 11:32 AM, Sep 30, 2022

Those leading the rescue efforts following Hurricane Ian are seeing awful things. From finding people who have deceased to encountering families who have lost their homes, the hurricane could weigh on the mental health of responders.

State of Florida officials say they’re closely monitoring the mental health of responders.

“You're gonna see already there are already embedded what we call critical incident stress management teams or schism teams for short,” said Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Those are already on site. And you're gonna continue to see first responders mental health resources come into the area including FEMA’s first responders' mental health services as well as individual mental health services as well as ours.”

According to federal statistics, 30 percent of first responders develop mental health conditions including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Federal officials say 20 percent of the general public develop mental health issues. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation said about 7 in 10 first responders are reluctant to use mental health services. 

The state of Florida has existing mental health services for first responders available on its website.