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Kathy Beazley
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Photo courtesy of NAMI North Texas

NAMI NORTH TEXAS INSTALLS 30 NEWLY-CERTIFIED LEADERS IN IN ITS MENTAL HEALTH OVERWATCH PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

Peer Support Program provides a no-cost, in-person, stigma-free mental health support network 

NAMI North Texas recently held a 16-hour mental health Overwatch Peer Support (OPS) certification class for 30 first responders across Dallas/Fort Worth. The two day course was held at the Flower Mound Police Department. The newly-certified leaders represent first responders located in Denton, HCA Healthcare, Flower Mound, Garland, Cleburne, Johnson County, Colleyville, UT Southwestern, Grand Prairie, Richardson, Dallas Veterans Affairs, Texas Woman's University, Trophy Club, and Haltom City. OPS is an innovative program that provides a private option to take the first step towards mental health care, making it easier for first responders to seek help, prioritize their own well-being, and connect with vetted, culturally appropriate clinical care when necessary. Intended to be supplementary to intra-agency support teams.

Leading the training were instructors Officer Todd Gyure from the Garland Police Department, Detective Michelle Horridge from the Flower Mound Police Department, and Officer Carlos Henderson of The Colony Police Department – all mental health liaisons within their own city’s department. 

“The certification of these leaders allows OPS to provide even more peer support and mental health resources to first responders within our community,” states Detective Horridge, who also serves as the NAMI North Texas Frontline Wellness Coordinator. “It’s truly inspiring to witness how the first responders exemplify excellence in representing their respective departments. Their dedication and unwavering support are a shining example of what it means to be leaders and what it means to make a positive impact in the Overwatch community!”

The NAMI North Texas OPS program is the first of its kind, in-person, no-cost, confidential, community-based, inter-agency peer support network for first responders. This innovative program provides a private option to take the first step towards mental health care, making it easier for first responders to seek help, prioritize their own well-being, and connect with vetted, culturally appropriate clinical care when necessary. Intended to be supplementary to intra-agency support teams, OPS serves as an additional resource to optimize first responder wellness and professional performance.

After more than a decade of experience working with law enforcement, NAMI North Texas developed the 16-hour, high quality, peer support certification course in 2021-2022 with the help of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. During the summer of 2023, the OPS program expanded to all first responder professionals, including communications/dispatch, corrections, and civilian employees of law enforcement agencies, and fire/EMS personnel.

Because of the high success rate of the Dallas/Fort Worth program, NAMI National has adopted and expanded the program across the U.S. through their Frontline Wellness Initiative, making OPS available for implementation at more than 600 local NAMI Affiliates nationwide.

Founded in 1982, NAMI North Texas, a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit organization, advocates for equitable access to mental health services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community of hope for all of those in need. Serving Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Rockwall counties, NAMI North Texas provides essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs. For more information, visit www.naminorthtexas.org.

 

 

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