In November 2017, Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell lost his life to suicide. During this year, Captain Mitchell was 1 of at least 243 Firefighters and Police Officers in the United States who died by suicide according to the Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders. First Responders are at a greater risk for experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress, depression, substance use disorders and suicidal ideation. Many First Responders are reluctant to seek behavioral health services due to the stigma and shame associated with mental illness.
The Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell’s First Responders Behavioral Health Support Program was created in September 2019 and launched on November 10, 2020 to provide First Responders in San Diego County a free and confidential space to seek behavioral health services 24/7 365 days a year.
This program aims to increase awareness about local mental health resources and decrease the stigma and barriers associated with First Responders seeking behavioral health support services.
Ryan J. Mitchell
We are a free confidential 24/7 peer supported referral helpline staffed by active and retired First Responders here to listen, support, and assist First Responders in San Diego County. Our team will:
Provide a listening and supportive environment for every caller
Connect First Responders to local mental health and substance use disorder resources
Provide in-service trainings to First Responders and First Responder organizations to increase awareness about mental health resources and decrease the stigma and barriers associated with seeking treatment.
We serve all retired and current First Responders located in San Diego County
Emergency Medical Services/Paramedics
Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Lifeguards
Probation Officers, 911 Dispatchers
You can contact us by calling our 24/7 helpline, or send us a message and one of our Peer Navigators will respond to you within 24 hours
I just want to thank you and everyone else involved in Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell First Responders Behavioral Health Support Program. Thanks to your help with the stressful financial aspect of this, counseling has really helped me get to a better emotional state. Home and work life have improved and I will continue to attend counseling regularly. I can’t express enough gratitude for being there in my time of need without asking a ton of details on what I needed help with.
– First Responder
Mental Health is a top priority in the First Responder community. First Responders are at a greater risk for experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety due to repeated exposure to trauma. Many First Responders are hesitant to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental health.
Our staff provides free in-person and Zoom presentations to educate first responders about stigma, recognize it's negative impact, and provide tools on how to reduce stigma within ones department. Our team will also create custom presentations to meet the needs of your department.
To contact us today about a free presentation, fill out the form below
Our Advisory Committee are leaders in the industry that help us work smarter and faster by providing provocative insights, actionable strategies, and practical tools to support our First Responders
Chief Ray Chaney, CAL FIRE, Retired
Director of Emergency Services, 2-1-1 San Diego
Ray Chaney specializes as 2-1-1 San Diego’s liaison to the First Responder community. Ray provides program guidance to
2-1-1 San Diego’s mission to support of large scale emergency incident information dissemination.
As our Director of Emergency Services Ray oversees the 2-1-1 San Diego’s integration into the San Diego Operational Area response system. Whether a natural disaster or human caused incident. 2-1-1 San Diego has developed trusted relationships with many emergency service organizations. He is responsible for the coordination, training, and response of thousands of Disaster Response Team (DRT) citizen volunteers in support of our 2-1-1 mission.
Ray retired from CAL FIRE after 30 years of service. In his last assignment he held the rank of Division Chief in command of the San Diego Units Western Division. Including the San Miguel Fire protection district. He was one of 10 Type I Incident Commanders in the State of California in charge of an Incident Command Team. In addition he was in charge of CAL FIRE Air Operations in San Diego.
Deanna L. Lewis
Advisory Council Member
Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell’s First Responders Behavioral Health Support Program
Dr. Deanna L. Lewis stands as a trailblazer in public health and an esteemed former firefighter who shattered barriers by becoming the first woman firefighter in the history of the Tucson Fire Department (TFD) in 1984 and TFD Firefighter of the Year in 1990. With two decades of dedicated service, her journey has been defined by an unwavering commitment to service, primary prevention, and harm reduction.
A graduate of Stanford University's physician assistant program, Deanna has served as a compassionate physician assistant for over two decades in both Arizona and California. Her six-year service as a U.S. Navy Reserve Hospital Corpsman and her humanitarian relief work at the U.S./Mexico Border are attestations of her dedication to public health and emergency response.
Dr. Lewis holds an MBA from the University of Arizona and a Doctor of Public Health degree from the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Her academic accomplishments reflect an unwavering dedication to improving health outcomes, with a particular focus on prioritizing the mental health and well-being of first responders, ensuring they attain the highest possible quality of life.
As an advisory council member with Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell’s First Responders Behavioral Health Support Program, Dr. Lewis continues her mission to passionately support and advocate for the well-being of those who selflessly serve our communities.
William Mitchell, (Father of Ryan J. Mitchell)
CHAPLAIN #84, CAL FIRE Chaplain Assoc. (CFCA)
William Mitchell, Father of Fire Captain Ryan Mitchell has been a California state licensed General Contractor for 30 years. Along with His wife Leslie running their contracting business, William also participated in Men’s ministry leadership at the Rock Church where he was the Ironmen Ministry Coordinator from 2009 to 2014. William was licensed as a minister in 2018 with East Valley Christian Fellowship and currently serves as an outreach Pastor.
In January of 2019 his application to the California Fire Chaplains Association, a branch of the National Federation of Fire Chaplains was approved. William serves as Chaplain #84 within the association serving Cal Fire MVU / San Diego County Fire. Numerous required certificates of training include Assisting Individuals in Crisis, Grief Following Trauma, Group Crisis Intervention and Advanced Chaplain Training to name a few. As Fire Chaplain, his focus is to serve those who serve as first responders, their support staff and their families if and when needed or called upon. To be a spiritual presence of comfort and support to those in crisis or need.
Captain Dan Willis, LMPD, Retired
Author of Bulletproof Spirit
Captain Dan Willis (ret) served at the La Mesa Police Department for nearly 30 years, in part as a crimes of violence, child molest, sexual assault, and homicide detective, SWAT Commander, and Wellness Unit Coordinator. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy where he studied emotional survival and wellness, as well as San Diego State University.
Capt. Willis is an international instructor on Trauma, PTSD, and the Process of Healing, having taught in 32 states and in Canada, as well as the National Command College and the FBI National Academy. He is the author of the emotional survival and wellness guidebook Bulletproof Spirit: The First Responders Essential Resource for Protecting and Healing Mind and Heart, which is required reading at the FBI National Academy. He is the founder of FirstResponderWellness.com and is the President and founder of a private charity foundation that works to alleviate human suffering around the world.