Wellness Programs Growing for NH First Responders

Last week, The New Hampshire Fire Academy hosted their free annual two-day Mental Health Seminar supporting wellness programs for first responders. The NH event features speakers and vendors promoting action for mental health and wellness. The program is co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Psychological Association (NHPA) and Professional Fire Fighters of NH (PFF-NH).


The keynote speaker Scott Tillman, a trained FBI hostage negotiator, spoke about creating a culture of connection. He covered effective strategies leaders can use to maintain the mental health of their first responders. Important points included crisis communication and conflict resolution following a principle-based approach. Mr. Tillman described how people make decisions and how to use influence techniques to nudge them in positive directions. This was a great opener to this mental health seminar. As first responders of all types know, communication is key!

Breakout Sessions

This year, the seminar included breakout sessions, giving attendees options and allowing for a closer, more personable construct in presentations and questions. Sessions included education and support along the topics of trauma and burnout, veterans support, how to support a colleague in crisis, PTSD support and prevention, support for wellness programs, and adaptability with PSTD.

Day one concluded with a panel discussion about bridging the gap between mental health providers and first responders. They discussed specific needs and expectations, hoping to provide insight and direction for attendees who need additional help building their own wellness programs. Day two offered a short play, The Aftermath, sponsored by Primex. The Aftermath follows the story of a firefighter dealing with PTS after a tragic accident and how it affects his life, both personal and professional.

(Left to right): Jennifer Anderson, Tara Rivera, Alfredo “Sonny” Silva, and Keith Abare

FRC Presence

A variety of vendors were present including First Responder Coaching with our founder and CEO Jen Anderson. The NH Fire Commissioner had invited FRC to be present and share our services. We connected with about a dozen departments including Manchester, Pelham, Bow, and Sandown NH, as well as two members of the NH Department of Corrections.

“It was an impactful and educational event hosted by an incredible group of mental health professionals in NH,” Jen tells us. “Pro-active approaches to mitigate trauma experienced on the job were highly discussed, including coaching! Word is getting out there!”

FRC continues to promote wellness programs across many platforms, but coming to an event close to our origins helps renew both hope and purpose in our mission. Other vendors present were Banyan Treatment Centers, Forge Health, Shatterproof at FHE Health, Aware Recovery Care, First Responders Peer Support Network, Responders Together NH, SHIFT, and more.

Reducing Numbers

Mental health among first responders has been slowly improving with the emergence of more wellness programs, but we need that progress to speed up. Last year, there were 162 first responder suicides, better than 217 from 2022, but still not zero. The more we promote effective wellness strategies, share our stories, and continue to make support and education accessible, the quicker we can reduce those numbers.

This NH seminar presents stories of mental wellness challenges, success, and plenty of resources for departments to connect their first responders to the mental health support they need. We hope many department representatives, be they leaders or rookies, were able to take back new information to help grow and support their own wellness programs and reduce the risk of mental crisis among their first responders.