EAST HELENA — Being a first responder, it’s no easy task. A first responder is a person who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance.
With this responsibility, the scenes they encounter can be unsettling and can stick with them for however long, and Great Falls police officer Jon Marshall emphasizes the importance of mental health.
“So, what we’re trying to do across the state of Montana is teach people, instruct people, how to be able to deal with it, how to understand that, and we’re really trying to create a statewide peer support network of law enforcement that are stepping up to help each other out,” said Marshall.
Marshall also stated that he wants the T-6 nonprofit organization to grow statewide, instead of agencies having support groups of their own.
"Having a statewide peer support program that’s comprised of law enforcement of all different careers, deputies, troopers, detention offers, whatever they’re working in, this is the first of its kind,” said Marshall.
With the organization's efforts to expand. Marshall also wants to emphasize getting rid of the stigma that follows first responders seeking for mental health support.
“There used to be a stigma around that if you didn’t talk about the issues, you were having, and nobody wanted to hear but the reality is that we want to change that,” Marshall says, “There is still a little bit of a stigma out there, but we are here today showing people and telling people that it’s okay to seek mental health.”
T-6 will host two more meetings at the East Valley Fire Department on Friday, September 30 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, October 1 from 8 a.m. to noon. The upcoming dates and locations the nonprofit will be at Kalispell (10/3 and 12/5) and Billings (11/3-5).