10 benefits of wellness apps for first responders

by Emily Marchetta - Director, Content and Partnerships, Lighthouse Health & Wellness

Given the stress that today’s first responders face – including rising suicide rates and line of duty deaths – supporting their well-being and that of their families has become even more important. And mobile applications have become the key to accessing the mental, physical and emotional wellness resources they need.

There are many wellness apps specifically designed to support the unique needs of first responders. But there are a multitude of mobile apps – not necessarily designed for them – that can support their well-being in specific areas. These include meditation apps, meal planning apps and apps that provide budget tips, just to name a few.

But no matter how they’re designed, apps are a great tool for public safety personnel. They’re available 24/7. And they’re typically affordable.

Thanks to the internet, there is an abundance of educational information available at our fingertips via computers and mobile devices. In fact, the amount of information available can be overwhelming. And it’s tough to discern what is most relevant and valuable. That’s why wellness apps for public safety employees and their families are a great way to put high-quality resources in the hands of those who need them.

While not all mobile apps have the same features, the following will give you a good understanding of just how powerful and effective mobile technology can be in connecting responders with support. 

How wellness apps help public safety personnel

How wellness apps help public safety personnel

  • Increase self-awareness and autonomy. Providing first responders wellness resources right on their own phones makes it easy for them to take charge of their own well-being. The apps provide quizzes, evaluations, self-assessments and other interactive tools that can help them better understand themselves. The apps also can help them identify opportunities for improvement, which can lead to a more fulfilling life. This is critical for mental health because of high-stress nature of their jobs. First responders also see far more trauma than average civilians. Checking in consistently and evaluating how that trauma may be affecting them is critical. Only when a person acknowledges trauma can they find ways to process and release it. This is important to maintaining overall well-being.

  • Provide access to vetted, culturally-competent resources. Many apps list resource guides with external links to organizations and professionals who understand the needs of public safety. Those listed in these resource directories know the unique needs of first responders and don’t need the first responders to provide additional explanations.

  • Offer confidential access to information on sensitive topics. Many first responders have concerns about confidentiality and security when it comes to reaching out for wellness help. There is still some stigma around mental health and even physical health at times (no one wants to appear weak or unfit for duty). If officers have questions about health issues, financial wellness, or balancing family life, wellness apps can provide quick answers and links to resources directly. So, responders can get deeper information or more personalized, culturally-competent assistance without worrying about divulging private information.

  • Include family support and assistance. First responder families can experience tension because of trauma that “comes home” with the responder after a tough shift. This can affect their relationships and mood. The partners and children of first responders can find healthy coping methods and anonymous support and resources that help them understand their loved one. Wholistic wellness involves supporting a person in multiple areas of their life. A healthy, happy home life is critical to the overall wellbeing of first responders and should be a priority.

  • Provide connection and help for retirees and those on leave. First responder work is a lifestyle, and the experiences and encounters of public safety workers become part of who they are. Access to wellness resources can help improve their quality of life and give them continuity of support should they need help when away from their agency for a time.

Recommended for first responders

FirstNet has reviewed and verified a number of resources that provide the benefits listed above. The FirstNet library only lists relevant, highly secure and reliable apps.

Lighthouse Health & Wellness is a FirstNet® Verified™ app accessible via the FirstNet App Catalog. Lighthouse Health & Wellness puts top resources from first responder wellness experts at your fingertips – at no cost. The Lighthouse app is anonymous and confidential, providing private and confidential access to critical resources for public safety and their families. It offers 24/7 access to valuable resources, available when public safety personnel need it most. Lighthouse H&W offers an informed, high-quality, and comprehensive collection of tools that support and improve first responders' health and wellness.

App features include:

  • Personalized agency wellness resources
  • Responsive app support
  • Anonymous and confidential resources
  • Custom push notification functionality
  • Internal/small group message boards
  • Access to the Lighthouse library of wellness content, including topics like mental health, physical fitness, financial stability, self-assessments, therapist finder, and training & events

Plus, you can customize the app for your agency. Visit lighthousehw.org to learn more. There are additional mobile apps designed to support first responders. You can search the entire FirstNet Library of mobile solutions here.

Emily Marchetta has spent the last decade honing her skills in digital marketing and communication, specializing in SMB marketing and content strategy. She’s held progressively influential leadership positions in start-up to enterprise-level health and wellness organizations, including roles in content management, writing, social media marketing, community management, and project management. She enjoys writing for business and creatively – especially on such topics as mental health, parenting, relationships, and holistic wellness. Her work has been published online and in niche magazines and journals.