UCF nonprofit receives $1.4M to expand services for first responders

The support center offers free resources to help with PTSD treatments

UCF RESTORES is one of only six regional support centers in Florida offering free resources to first responders in need.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A University of Central Florida nonprofit, clinical research center and trauma treatment clinic received $1.4 million to expand its peer support and suicide prevention training for first responders.

UCF RESTORES is one of only six regional support centers in Florida offering free resources to first responders in need, according to a news release. The support center was granted the First Responder Regional Support Center Grant by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

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At the support center, 66% of participants with combat-related PTSD and 76% of first responders no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD following treatment, according to the center’s website. UCF RESTORES was established to change the way post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related concerns are understood, diagnosed and treated.

UCF RESTORES was also awarded an additional $270,000 to work with the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and build a statewide mental health wellness toolkit for first responders.

Three resources will be provided by the support center to enhance the behavioral health of first responders and their families:

  • Peer support training focused on mental health and suicide prevention
  • A large network of clinicians providing free training on first responder culture and treatments that work for PTSD
  • Three strategic summits hosted to assist in the development of comprehensive and local behavioral health services for first responders and their families

Florida lost 3,427 lives to suicide in 2019, and research indicates that suicide-related thoughts and behaviors are high among first responders, according to the FDCF’s First Responder Suicide Deterrence Task Force 2021 Annual Report.

According to Chief Doug Riley of the Lakeland Fire Department, UCF RESTORES has been an incredible resource to help firefighters with education about trauma treatment options and peer support training.

“Firefighters protect themselves with the necessary gear and equipment,” Riley said in a news release. “They train to be able to handle the physical requirements of the job, but they don’t have enough training and education for their mental health.”

About the Author:

Ashley joined ClickOrlando.com in June 2022.