Critical Tool in Addressing First Responder Suicide and Mental Health Crisis
The GUIDE App Proves its Worth as a Critical Tool in Addressing First Responder Suicide and Mental Health Crisis in Pilot Study Results
Firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, while EMS providers are 1.39 times more likely to die by suicide than the public. A new pilot study proves that the use of the GUIDE app increases goal-oriented behavior and decreases negative emotions and anxiety within one month of use.
In the face of an alarmingly steady rise in firefighters and EMS clinicians’ suicides, GUIDE, an award-winning wellness and resilience mobile app, emerges as a groundbreaking solution to prioritize the mental and emotional well-being of all first responders. Recent statistics reveal a harsh reality. In 2021, research found that firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, while EMS providers are 1.39 times more likely to die by suicide than the public (CDC, 2021). This alarming trend underscores the urgent need for proactive and effective mental health support within the first responder community.
In a recent pilot study, GUIDE has demonstrated significant success. This unique platform is tailored to empower individuals in high-stress professions, including firefighters and EMS providers, by providing daily wellness practices, micro-learning courses, and anonymous small peer support groups. Seeking help can have a stigma within the first responder community, with firefighter and EMS providers fearing that they will be seen as weak or unfit for duty. They may also be concerned with having a confidentiality breach or data leak. GUIDE proactively addresses these barriers to accessing and utilizing wellness support within its app, showing its potential to be a vital tool in solving the current wellness crisis and helping departments address the resulting challenges around absenteeism, recruitment, and retention.
“Firefighters and EMS clinicians face unparalleled challenges, and the rising rates of suicide are a distressing reminder of the urgent need for targeted solutions. We deliver a member experience that neutralizes common fears by never collecting personal identifying information and prioritizing security through Okta, a leader in login security. First responders need new, proactive solutions to support them in the challenging roles they play. GUIDE is not just an app; it’s a lifeline for those who bravely respond to emergencies and save lives,” said Patrick Sandone, Founder and CEO of GUIDE.
GUIDE’s pilot study, conducted with members of various high-stress professions, showcased remarkable results. The study was completed over one month where sixteen testers were asked to interact with the app twelve times. Participants demonstrated consistent engagement with the app, with 75 percent completing at least one lesson and small group post each week, while 59 percent posted at least one small group comment weekly. On average, participants completed 26 lessons over four weeks, posting a total of 433 small group posts and 182 comments. The engagement varied among participants, but the overall findings suggest encouraging usage patterns and interaction with the app.
Consistent app use was hypothesized to lead to increased positive emotions, engagement, relationships, etc., and decreased negative emotions, loneliness, and anxiety was supported by the results. Scores on the PERMA increased and decreased in predicted areas (Goal-Oriented Behavior increased, on average, by 15 percent and Negative Emotions decreased, on average, by 11 percent). PWS results supported the decrease in Anxiety scores (29 percent, on average). Results suggest longer app use might lead to significant changes in Life Satisfaction, Worthwhile, and Happiness.
The study used an analysis of well-being measures to conduct its research, PERMA and PWS. PERMA is a well-being scale that stands for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. The Personal Wellbeing Score (PWS) is a four-item measure designed to assess an individual’s own perceptions of their wellness.
Victoria Stewart, a clinical psychologist specializing in PTSD and co-author of the pilot study’s white paper, expressed optimism about the app’s potential impact. “Significant changes in well-being with a small sample size promote optimism about future studies with larger sample sizes and longer app usage durations. It shows promise of enhancing the validity and success of the app.”
To further validate and expand on these promising results, GUIDE has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Center for Mental Health for an extensive and comprehensive clinical trial. This collaboration aims to deepen understanding and efficacy, offering hope for a transformative solution to the first responder wellness crisis.
As the first responder community grapples with unprecedented challenges, GUIDE stands as a beacon of support. For more information or to download the pilot study white paper, visit https://theguideapp.com/pilotstudy/.