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Bosque School Seniors Ariella and Will Champion Mental Health in EMS through Transformative Event

We are proud to share the extraordinary efforts of two Bosque School seniors, Ariella and Will, who recently organized a groundbreaking event focused on mental health in emergency medical services (EMS). The event, titled "Mental Health in EMS: From Patient to Provider," aimed to address critical issues within the EMS field and provide valuable education for both providers and the community.

Ariella and Will, co-presidents of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) at Bosque School, highlighted the importance of mental health in EMS, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to patient care. They discussed the challenges faced by EMS professionals and expressed their commitment to creating a healthier and happier New Mexico community.

The event featured insightful training sessions led by distinguished presenters, offering diverse perspectives on mental health in EMS. Noteworthy sessions included "Your Least Favorite F Word" by Laura Nguyễn, addressing emotional intelligence and stress management, and "Peer Support: What It Is and Why You Need It" by Chief Paul Bearce, discussing the benefits of developing a peer support network.

The sessions also covered topics such as adjusting to the realities of EMS work, mental health considerations in EMS by Jennifer Rodgers, building rapport with patients by Gilbert Valdez, and substance use challenges presented by Dr. Danielle Rivera. Additionally, the event included a session on youth mental health emergencies by Dr. Kimothi Cain and a crucial session on suicide prevention with "Youth QPR," led by Clarie Miller.

Ariella's and Will's dedication to mental health in EMS is deeply rooted in their senior theses. Will's research focuses on EMT retention and attrition, exploring reasons for attrition and proposing solutions. Ariella's thesis delves into psychiatric emergencies in EMS, assessing preparedness and suggesting improvements.

Their decision to combine their research topics and host this conference exemplifies their commitment to comprehensively addressing the challenges faced by EMS providers. The goal of their training was not only to enhance EMS providers' education on mental health but also to contribute to the well-being of providers and, in turn, improve patient care.

To ensure the relevance of the event, Ariella and Will conducted a survey among EMS providers in our community. The survey revealed concerning insights, with many providers feeling inadequately competent in dealing with psychiatric emergencies. Attrition emerged as a significant concern, with over half of respondents planning to leave EMS within the next licensing cycle. The survey also highlighted issues like pay, cumulative stress, and dissatisfaction with the medical system as contributors to attrition.

The survey findings reinforced the urgency of addressing mental health in EMS, further emphasizing the significance of Ariella's and Will's initiative in organizing this impactful event.

The event garnered praise from attendees, including Amy Dalness, MRC Coordinator, who expressed, "I was so proud to see Will's and Ariella's initiative to make this event happen because it was a need they both identified seeing in their own experiences as responders. They not only saw the need but took the initiative to address it. It was so impressive."

Amy further shared, "The event itself was a joy to attend because people were engaging in a really important topic. Professionals were impressed to see such content being presented at a high school facilitated by high school students. I was personally moved by the content in a way that helped me as a first responder to think about tough subjects like addiction, mental health struggles, working with patients with mental health struggles as well as myself. I walked away feeling like I also received some education that was helpful. I hope this is something our MRC students and next year's students can piggyback on and continue to do, whether it's the same subject or something else they identify as a need. It feels really amazing that our students can create something that can happen year after year and help our Bosque School community and our greater community."

Will shared his perspective, saying, "I know that within my own life and with my friends, I unknowingly was dealing with mental health struggles, and noticed I hadn't received much training and then made the realization there is a true  need for this."

Ariella echoed this sentiment stating, "Hearing from responders who are out in the field every day and what they experience in regards to mental health challenges, they deal with it every day. It felt good to hopefully make a difference and give them some tools and support. Also, there are so many layers of mental health; as a provider, you need to prioritize your mental health or else you won't be able to give your patients proper care."

We are proud of Ariella and Will for their leadership, compassion, and commitment to effecting positive change in the healthcare community, and we applaud their dedication and look forward to witnessing the lasting impact of their efforts.