About The Code Green Campaign®
The Code Green Campaign is a first responder oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Also known as Code Green, we serve all types of first responders, including firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, police, corrections, air medical, and search & rescue. Our name is a combination of the color for mental health awareness (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 mental health issues that affect first responders. Due to the stresses first responders are exposed to, they have increased rates of PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide. In addition, we aim to provide education for responders on multiple mental health related topics. Our education includes teaching people how to look out for themselves and their peers and how to talk to someone in crisis. We also educate first responders about reducing stress, improving resilience, and how to access mental health care.
The primary way the campaign raises awareness is through our storytelling project. We give first responders an outlet to tell the story of their mental health issues anonymously. The stories are then republished on our website and social media so they can be viewed by everyone. This allows people to see what first responders with mental health conditions have gone through. It also allows first responders who are struggling to understand that they are not alone. Finally, it allows people who do not have first hand experience with mental health issues to see that mental health issues can affect anyone. This helps improve understanding and decrease the stigma.
Bring awareness to the high rates of mental health issues in first responders and reduce them. Eliminate the stigma that prevents people from admitting these issues and asking for help. Educate first responders on self and peer care and to advocate for systemic change in how mental health issues are addressed by first responder agencies.
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. In addition, they became alarmed at the lack of discussion about mental health and suicide, and also with the lack of education and resources available for first responders. The founding purpose of Code Green was to be a storytelling project. The founders agreed that if there is one thing that first responders like to do it is tell stories. It seemed to them 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 nearly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Code Green publishes the stories on both their website and their social media.
In April of 2014 the Code Green Campaign® was granted nonprofit status in their home state of Washington. This was our first step towards becoming a federal 501(c)(3) organization. In December of 2014 the IRS approved Code Green’s application non-profit status. As a result Code Green is currently approved as a public charity operating as a 501(c)(3) organization.