Special focus on the mental health care crisis faced by frontline workers
The Uyeno Foundation launched its first-ever Virtual Mental Health Symposium on March 25, 2021. The symposium explored the evolving mental healthcare crisis faced by frontline and essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, EMS, and public defenders.
The panel consisted of professionals who work on the frontlines and in the mental health field. Pastor Dennis Gingerich was the moderator of the symposium and is the Lead Chaplain for the Cape Coral Police Department. He is also the Founding Pastor at Cape Christian Fellowship in Cape Coral and still serves as a pastor there today.
“Since 2017, every year more police officers and firefighters have died from suicide than in the line of duty,” said Pastor Dennis Gingerich during his opening statement.
The panelists included Public Defender Kathleen Smith; Domestic Abuse Advocate Sandy Cheetham; Registered Mental Health Counselor Dr. David Hall; Flight Trauma Nurse, Firefighter, and First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Dave Harrow; Director of Cornerstone Consultants Dr. Amy Trout; and Cape Coral Police Department’s Master Sergeant Jennifer Matlock.
The conversation covered topics from discussing the mental health epidemic, public perception of frontline and essential workers, and identifying “cries for help”, all the way to the stigma and solutions that are needed to serve frontline workers holistically.
“Ninety-three percent of first responders believe mental health is as important as physical health,” said Dr. Amy Trout. “We need to work on breaking down shame and redefining what strength and resiliency is. Strong is being aware of where we are weak and where we can grow to heal and strengthen.”
“Resilient is a great thing to be, but unless you have the mental health and resources to really embody that, it’s just a word,” said First Lieutenant Dave Harrow while highlighting the mental healthcare crisis for first responders.
The symposium closed with words of encouragement from Don and Joanne Uyeno, the founders of the Uyeno Foundation, and an announcement about its upcoming grant funding cycle opening on May 1, 2021. Organizations will be encouraged to subscribe for grant fund notifications via the Uyeno Foundation’s website www.uyenofoundation.org/apply.
The Uyeno Foundation’s mission is to remove barriers to access for mental health support services for all. The foundation seeks to fund initiatives that promote positive mental health through prevention, intervention, treatment, and education.
A full recording of the virtual mental health symposium is available on the website at www.uyenofoundation.org.