Director of Communications
Public Engagement Specialist
(Monday, December 4, 2023, New Orleans, LA) – The Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) has expanded mental health support for its public safety professionals. Made available today through our agency’s “Mental Health Monday” announcement, it is a confidential interactive well-being program built specifically for first responders. Developed through PowerDMS by NeoGov, OPCD is one of two public safety communications entities in the United States piloting this program.
The idea for this program began with a conversation between OPCD Interim Executive Director Karl Fasold and NeoGov Vice President of Product – Public Safety Karen Carlson at the 2023 APCO conference. Steps were taken to develop an innovative and confidential application that is now active for OPCD team members’ cell phones, providing every member of the team access to expert information with the anonymity and privacy necessary for mental health services.
“The concerns of any first responder around privacy when considering asking for help and the actual steps for seeking help from a trusted source are fairly significant in the 911 industry,” notes Interim Executive Director Fasold. “We needed a product that was authoritative, trustworthy, and seamless for our team.”
Vice President Carlson shares, “Our new mental health product, PowerLine, provides responders across all ranks and job functions at OPCD with dedicated resources and 24/7 support, including unique access to a community of peer volunteers at their sister pilot site in California. This peer group selection keeps privacy high yet leverages the experiences shared in the same line of work.”
Interim Executive Director Fasold shares, “OPCD has made our first responder wellbeing a top priority and our staff now have immediate support to address the most challenging aspects of the job. At the same time, it is also building a stronger agency as we serve the City of New Orleans.”
Last year, suicide claimed the lives of 189 public safety professionals across the nation. According to statistics by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, first responders report much higher rates of depression, burnout, PTSD, and anxiety than the general population. The scarcity of wellness resources, combined with the stigma and potential career consequences of using those resources, means responders aren’t getting the support they need.
Through this program and via others already underway, OPCD is investing in the quality of service for our residents and visitors who are calling 9-1-1 during life-threatening emergencies.