Image of a Green Ribbon for Mental Health Awareness
May 4, 2023

DHSES Announces Workshops for New York’s Emergency Responders During Mental Health Awareness Month

DHSES Announces Workshops for New York’s Emergency Responders During Mental Health Awareness Month
Partnership with SUNY New Paltz Institute for Disaster Mental Health Emphasizes Wellness for Public Safety Personnel Across New York State
Managing Staff Stress & Promoting Workforce Resilience Workshops to be Held on May 18th and May 25th for Emergency Responders

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) Commissioner Jackie Bray today announced, in partnership with the SUNY New Paltz Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH), two ‘Managing Staff Stress & Promoting Workforce Resilience’ training workshops to be held later this month for New York’s public safety personnel. These workshops coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, which encourages people to prioritize their mental health and increase awareness about mental illness. The two half-day workshops for first responders, including public sector personnel, are designed to identify and understand operational and traumatic stress, and promote workforce resilience through psychological first aid and other strategies.

“Emergency responders, both here in New York and across the nation, are faced with countless stressors and traumas every day and it’s critical we get them the support they need so they can continue to keep our communities safe,” said Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray. “Through our partnership with SUNY New Paltz’s Institute for Disaster Mental Health, New York is working to connect local first responders with the tools necessary for effectively managing and processing their own stress and trauma.”

DHSES and IDMH are set to host two workshops for first responders and public sector personnel: Thursday, May 18th, at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, and on Thursday, May 25th in Albany, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Mental health professionals will conduct the training and discuss the following: 

  • Understanding operational and traumatic stress
    • Distinguishing among acute, chronic, cumulative, and traumatic stress
    • Distinguishing between typical and extreme reactions 
  • Promoting workforce resilience: Responding to operational stress
    • Psychological First Aid
    • Maintaining personal resilience while supporting staff
  • Coping with traumatic stress and PTSD
    • Recognizing and coping with traumatic stress
    • Recognizing the symptoms of PTSD and related disorders
    • Understanding goals and options for the treatment of PTSD and related disorders


SUNY New Paltz Institute for Disaster Mental Health Executive Director Dr. Amy Nitza said, “Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our first responder and public safety community is of the utmost importance, and we are honored to be partnering with DHSES on this initiative to do so. The agency's commitment to acknowledging and addressing the impact of this kind of work on its personnel is admirable and really sets an example for other states.”

In addition to offering these workshops in May, the Division will host a presentation on PTSD in the SWAT community for the attendees of this summer’s Tactical Week exercise at the State Preparedness Training Center. The presenter, Travis Gribble, is a former SWAT operator from Mesa, Ariz., who experienced PTSD and now speaks about this issue with his peers. He recently presented on this topic at the Division’s 2023 Tactical Team Leadership Forum and had the highest-rated presentation at the event.

The Division’s efforts to raise awareness about addressing stress and trauma in the first responder community aligns with Governor Hochul’s commitment to enhance mental health services and drastically reduce the number of New Yorkers with unmet mental health needs throughout the state.

First outlined in the 2023 State of the State, the plan aims to dramatically expand access to mental health care, reduce wait times and ensure appropriate levels of care to correct a mental health care system that has suffered chronic underinvestment.

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, find DHSES on Facebook, on X (formerly Twitter), or visit dhses.ny.gov.