About The Code Green Campaign

The Code Green Campaign, aka Code Green is a first responder oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Code Green serves all types of first responders, including firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, police, corrections, air medical, and search & rescue. We take our name from combining the color of the mental health awareness ribbon, green, and from the “code alerts” that EMS uses to designate an emergency patient. For example, if someone is having a stroke or heart attack that needs rapid intervention, first responders will tell the hospital the patient is having a “code stroke” or “code STEMI”. The idea is that Code Green is calling a code alert on the mental health of first responders.

The campaign has two main goals. Our primary goal is raising awareness of the high rates of things like PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide among first responders. Our secondary goal is providing education for responders on how to provide care for themselves and recognize issues in their peers. We also work towards educating first responders about reducing stress and reducing the stigma along with improving access to mental health care.

The primary way the campaign raises awareness is by giving first responders an outlet to tell the story of their mental health issues anonymously, and then republishing those stories so they can be viewed by everyone. This allows us to see what each other have really gone through, and allows those of us who are struggling to understand that we are not alone. It also allows those who do not have first hand experience with mental health issues to see that mental health issues can affect anyone, which will hopefully decrease the stigma.

Mission

To bring awareness to the high rates of mental health issues in first responders and reduce them. To eliminate the stigma that prevents people from admitting these issues and asking for help. To educate first responders on self and peer care and to lobby for systemic change in how mental health issues are addressed by first responder agencies.

History

The Code Green Campaign was founded in March of 2014 by a group of EMS professionals after they became aware of the high rate of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and suicide among first responders. Once they became aware of the issues, they also became alarmed at the lack of discussion about mental health and suicide, along with the lack of education and resources available for first responders. Code Green was initially founded as a storytelling project. The founders agreed that if there is one thing that first responders like to do, it is tell stories. They thought that if they gave people a way to tell their stories anonymously it may help jump start the discussion and reduce the stigma. Since then, Code Green has published a story every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

In April of 2014 The Code Green Campaign was granted nonprofit status in their home state, the first step towards becoming a federal 501(c)(3) organization. In December of 2014 the IRS approved Code Green’s application to be classified as a public charity operating as a 501(c)(3) organization.

Since Code Green was founded in March of 2014 we have:

 – Distributed over 22,000 mental health resource cards to providers (starting in March of 2015).
– Collected 380 stories to raise awareness and remind providers that no one is suffering alone.
– Educated tens of thousands about mental health, resilience, and available resources via social media (including a semi-regular column in EMS1) and at public events.
– Increased reporting of public safety suicides by 100%, leading to a better understanding of the core issue
– Created a database of approximately 100 city, state, and international crisis and long-term mental health resources predominantly specializing in public safety providers, the first of its kind.
– Provided peer support and crisis referral for hundreds of providers.
We have also referred people for mental health treatment, raised awareness though merchandise sales, developed education, and consulted with agencies among many other activities aimed at improving the mental health of first responders everywhere.