First Responders Appreciation Day

February 15th is First Responders Appreciation Day! We’re excited to bring back this annual program recognizing the EMS, Fire & Rescue, Police, Sheriff, Social Services, medical staff, and crisis workers who serve Nelson County. Throughout COVID-19 your service has been significantly beyond the call of duty, & your community appreciates you!

On November 19, 2016, brush fires swept across Nelson and Amherst Counties burning over five thousand acres. For more than a week 305 Firefighters and other first responders from across the nation fought to contain one of the worst fires ever to impact our community. The following January brought a week of snow, with freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions. During all of it, our first responders were there not only to help those involved in car accidents but were out on those dangerous roads to answer 911 calls. After a winter like that, we needed to say thanks.

As you may imagine, few jobs are more emotionally taxing than Emergency Medical Services (EMS), firefighters, search & rescue, emergency dispatch, state or local law enforcement. The things a first responder may see as they arrive on the scene of an accident or violent crime can stay with them for months, years, or often for a lifetime.

The University of Phoenix conducted a survey on first responder mental health. The study revealed that a high percentage of first responders are dealing with traumatic events in their line of work, but many are also experiencing negative mental health symptoms. Because of these experiences, first responders, are at higher risk for experiencing anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, and death by suicide.

First Responders Appreciation Day was first held in February of 2017 by Blue Ridge Medical Center, with the goal of providing the community with a way to say thank you to our first responders. The Nelson Community Wellness Alliance has since adopted the event and continues to coordinate it with an special emphasis on mental health awareness.

The Nelson Community Wellness Alliance is working to raise awareness about the importance of caring for our mental health to reduce the long-term impacts of exposure to trauma. We hope you will join us as we say thank you to our first responders and encourage anyone you know who may be struggling to deal with a traumatic event to seek out resources to help them recover.

Stamp Out Stigma

People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. However mental health issues are very common…

  • Nearly one in five adults lives with a mental illness.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year (NIMH, 2017).
  • Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

While mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, the majority of people who are diagnosed with a mental health condition are able to recover from it. Stamp out stigma is an annual event hosted by the Nelson Community Wellness Alliance for the purpose of reducing the stigma of mental health by providing opportunities for people of all ages to learn how to care for their mental health. The Alliance connects nationally known speakers and experts in mental health, addiction, and recovery to Nelson County citizens, including youth, parents, and allied professionals.