First responders are those heroic individuals who are the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency and provide whatever help is needed. They include firefighters, emergency medical teams, police officers, the National Guard, and many others. We honor these individuals for the service they provide to society.
People living with mental illness also can have first responders. They can be family members, friends, teachers, colleagues, health care providers, or anyone else on their support "team" who is attentive enough and caring enough to notice when something’s wrong. This can be the first step on the road to recovery and health. 
But it’s not easy to recognize the difference between sadness and depression, for example, or between stress-related anxiety and mental illness. And the stigma our society places on mental illness can make it that much harder for us to acknowledge – and to act – when we think something might be wrong.
That’s why we’re proud to support those courageous individuals who not only provide day-to-day care for people living with mental illness, but also serve as the “first responders” in their loved ones’ lives.
There is a “space” between the time someone realizes something’s wrong and the time a formal diagnosis is made, such as trauma. We honor the pain of traumatic experiences that can come to the surface, and we recognize that it can take all kinds of shapes and forms. Those who have experienced trauma need the compassion, encouragement and understanding of their support group during this critical time.
At Courage to Caregivers, we see ourselves operating in this “space” – being there for you as caregivers, and reminding you that you’re not alone!
And remember, Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 7-13. We’ll have more about that in next week’s email. 


Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director