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THE NEWSLETTER OF THE BUREAU OF HEALTH SERVICES • COUNSELING SERVICES UNIT • FDNY
Vol.1 • No. 2 • November 2002

What's new this month

Behavioral Health Questionnaire
What is Depression?
Flight 587
FDNY Tobacco Cessation Program
Collapse Survivor's Group
CSU Locations

 

THE BHS/CSU BEHAVIORAL HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE

Following the tragedy of 9/11, our efforts at BHS have focused on the evaluation and treatment of members injured and impaired by the catastrophic events of that day. Our members continued to work on-site in rescue/recovery efforts until June 02. In our efforts to secure funding for needed medicals and counseling services, we emphasized that our ENTIRE work force was exposed. When we secured FEMA funding, we worked in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Health to provide a comprehensive plan of action to EVERY ONE OF OUR MEMBERS. Other work groups and hospitals have modeled their evaluations after our program but none have or will provide the specialized tests and comprehensive program offered by BHS.

THE BHS/CSU MENTAL HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE IS DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER QUESTIONNAIRE YOU MAY SEE:

  • It is the ONLY ONE offered to EVERY member, not just a selected few.
    • Every member was exposed, so every member deserves to be heard;
    • Every member is an individual and may react differently;
    • Every member and their family can be offered individual counseling services.
  • It was developed by national experts, with experience gained from the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Gulf War;
  • It will NOT be part of any FDNY record;
  • A private company will do the data scanning and analysis;
  • The national experts will oversee the analysis;
  • It is completely confidential. We have obtained a FEDERAL CONFIDENTIALITY CERTIFICATE, at the request of your union, to protect your confidentiality;
  • Your unions have stated that NO mental health survey should be filled out without the protection of a Federal Confidentiality Certificate. We have obtained this certificate.
  • It is part of a comprehensive program that:
    • Provides free, voluntary counseling services to you and your family members;
    • Allows you to indicate what type of counseling services would be best received by you and your family members;
    • Provides follow up opportunities over the years so that developing issues will not be neglected or ignored.
  • It is the ONLY ONE that will include all RETIRED members affected by 9/11.

To evaluate our members’ emotional well being we asked several national experts to develop a mental health questionnaire for our members. These experts had previously helped evaluate firefighters, first responders, military personnel and civilians after the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing, US Embassy bombings and the Gulf War. Our goal is to learn how we are doing individually and as a group, as well as to improve the way we help each other now and in the future. We rejected any offer to evaluate only a sample of our workforce.

The response to this event is so varied that EVERY member DESERVES an opportunity to participate and have his/her voice heard. In addition, this program provides follow up for many years to come. The emotional and physical well being of our members is an integral part of our department’s recovery. This behavioral health questionnaire is one way to measure how we are doing.

To assure your protection, we applied for and received the highest level of confidentiality protection offered in this country – a federal confidentiality certificate. The certificate covers you when you sign the form attached to the questionnaire. Once signed, no court in this land can order the release of your information. Only you have the power to release this information.
We are aware that the events of that day may not be felt in the first days, weeks or months afterwards.

Our efforts have been directed at ensuring that resources are available now and in the future to meet the needs of our members and their families, whether active or retired.. In the field of mental health, there are many paths towards wellness. There is no clear method that ensures that wellness. Understanding that fact, we provide many different programs to meet the different needs of our members. If you don’t feel comfortable with one approach, you can always try another. The questionnaire is one tool to help us help you with programs tailored to your specific needs.

PARTICIPATE IN THE BHS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE
AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.

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Flight 587

American Airlines flight 587 was the second most deadly plane crash in U.S. history. The members of the FDNY, on duty, off duty, and retired responded to serve the community.

A group is being developed for firefighter /officers who would like to discuss their experiences.

Time: 12:noon
When: Beginning December 2, 2002
Where: Knights of Columbus
333 Beach 90th St., Rockaway Beach, NY

For information contact: Shondell at (212) 570-1693

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WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

Many people will from time to time say I’m so depressed. But there is a very distinct difference between the passing ‘blue mood’ that effects most people from time to time and a Depressive Disorder.

Depression is an illness that infects a person’s body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way a person sees the world around them. It is an illness that affects 18.8 million adults in this country yearly and, if left untreated, can go on for months and years.

As with other illnesses, a variety of symptoms can be experienced by depressive disorder sufferers, though not every person experiences each one. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or ‘empty’ mood;
  • Feeling of hopelessness, pessimism;
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness;
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex;
  • Decreased energy, feelings of fatigue;
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions;
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping;
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain;
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts;
  • Restlessness, irritability;
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

These symptoms can be daily and persistent. These symptoms can leave a person feeling exhausted and helpless. But it is important to realize that these negative views are results of the depression and may not reflect the actual circumstances of that person’s life. Sufferers can help themselves by setting realistic goals and participating in enjoyable activities, confiding in someone trusted rather than being secretive and ashamed, and realizing that feeling better rarely happens immediately but takes time. It is important to be available to friends, co-workers, and family members who demonstrate these behaviors or speak about their depressive feelings.

The most important step is to get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Family doctors, religious leaders, and clinicians are often very successful in lending a helping hand. The clinicians at the CSU are specially trained to spot and treat Depressive Disorders. Though the nature of the disease means that sufferers will feel hopeless, it is important to remember that, with time and treatment, most people will recover.


COLLAPSE SURVIVOR’S GROUP

Thursdays-Continuing for 10 weeks
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
251 Lafayette Street, New York

If interested, please contact Amy or Ashley at 212-570-1693 for a pre-group appointment.

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FDNY Tobacco Cessation Program

Emotions resulting from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 have contributed to an increase in tobacco smoking for members of the Department. Since 9/11, 23 percent of former smokers started smoking again and 29 percent of current smokers started smoking more. No one can eliminate the daily work exposures nor change the WTC-related exposures. Given these exposures, stopping tobacco is the single most important thing members can do to improve their future health and prolong their lives. “Many members see a remarkable improvement in their breathing within days of stopping smoking” said Dr. David Prezant, Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

FDNY PROGRAM MADE POSSIBLE BY SUPPORT FROM:

  • Chest Foundation of the American College of Chest Physicians;
  • Pharmacia (makers of the Nicotrol nicotine replacement products – patch, inhaler and spray);
  • Labor, Management and FDNY support;
  • Matthew Bars, MS, an expert in tobacco cessation, provides outside expertise;
  • Staffed by clinicians from the FDNY-BHS, FDNY-CSU, Smoking Consultation Service, Montefiore Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, North Shore University Medical Center and other trained healthcare professionals.

It is a FREE, VOLUNTARY program, specific to the needs of FDNY personnel, includes individual and group counseling and medications totaling over $1,000 per participant. We create a program using a combination of nicotine replacement products, medication and counseling techniques specific to each participant.

Participant FEEDBACK is excellent - over 400 treated
Initial data indicates QUIT RATES over 60%
Open to all FDNY, EMS, Civilian Employees, and their Significant Others.
For info, call 718-999-1942

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CSU LOCATIONS

FDNY Counseling Service Unit (CSU) provides services to personnel and to family members of deceased and active Fire Fighters, EMTs and Paramedics.

Appointments for individual, couples, family, and phone counseling are available Monday-Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm. The CSU also provides referrals to other areas.

Manhattan
251 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY
(212) 570 – 1693

Staten Island
1688 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY
(718) 815-4111

Queens
Fort Totten
Building 413A
Bayside, NY
(718) 352 – 2140

Brentwood, Suffolk County
NY Fire Department
Counseling Services
Center Cottage-Suffolk County
Community College
Crooked Hill Road
Brentwood NY 11717
(631) 851-6888

Orange County
2279 Goshen Turnpike
Middletown, NY
(845) 695-1029

Putnam, Rockland County
(845) 695-1029

FDNY Bureau of Health Services
9 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201
251 Lafayette Street, NY

For information on groups or upcoming events please call (212) 570-1693.

Dr. Kerry Kelly
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. David Prezant
Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Malachy Corrigan
Director, FDNY CSU

Mary T. McLaughlin
Director, FDNY BHS

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