Houston Fire Department
HFD Behavioral Health Services
Firefighters face the same issues as other members of our community – stressors from relationships, finances, and health. However, they also face additional stressors from a challenging job that includes routine involvement in the tragedies of others. These events take place when our opportunity to control the surroundings is minimal and the job itself includes the ever-present danger of injury or death to the firefighter. Unfortunately, abundant experience and research in the Fire Service has demonstrated the high toll of emotional and mental health on firefighters. Emotional support, stress management, and mental well-being are critical elements for our workforce. To address these needs, the City and the Department have created several ways for firefighters to access behavioral health care.
HFD Psychology Services The Department’s Psychology Service was established in 1995. It is staffed by two full-time licensed, doctoral-level psychologists who serve as part of the Command Staff. These Staff Psychologists train doctoral students in psychology from APA-accredited programs to provide psychological services to firefighters and other First Responders. Our psychologists are also actively involved in various research projects which further the understanding of the behavioral health challenges faced by members of the Fire Service. Departmental Psychologists provide clinical oversight and training to the Department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team and respond as necessary to crisis incidents in the Department.
Psychologists and their interns provide clinical services to members of the Department and their immediate family members. As resources allow, the Psychology Service provides care to retirees as well. Clinical services include individual counseling for issues such as depression and anxiety, couples/relationship therapy, treatment for PTSD, help in addressing substance abuse, and group classes on issues such as anger management and stress reduction. There are no charges for the services provided, and your insurance is not utilized. Psychologists are actively involved with officer training to assist them in responding to behavioral health issues faced by members. Psychology services also strives to maintain confidentiality in order to provide open interaction with members in need. We maintain close relationships with other mental health providers including the city’s EAP, the VA, the Harris Center, and local licensed professionals.
Dr. Leah Belsches
Critical Incident Stress Management Team The Houston Fire Department Critical Incident Stress Management Team provides peer-based intervention and stress management education. Team members are trained to use critical incident stress management techniques as developed by The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. The highest priority of the team is to offer peer support and maintain confidentiality for our members. Our goal is to reduce critical incident stress on department personnel and prevent the long-term impact from traumatic stress. The HFD CISM Team was initially formed in 1992 and consists of classified members that come from all areas of the department. It is a peer support team that is available on a 24/7 basis to respond to crisis calls ranging from One-On-One to Group support. Today CISM has become an integral part of the Houston Fire Department and is considered the standard of care. Our goal has always been to support the members of our department during those stressful times that are the result of incidents related to our jobs. That was our goal in 1992 and that remains our goal today. For General Information, Contact:
CISM Team Coordinator- Captain Jason “Bear” Wilson
Dial 911, HFD Dispatch, or the local Crisis Hotline @ 866-970-4770
City of Houston Employee Assistance Program (EAP) The City maintains two EAP’s which any city employee may utilize:
Mental Health Providers on Your Insurance
Firefighters and family members who are covered by health insurance also have access to mental health providers within their insurance network. Check with your insurance provider to determine what providers are available to you.