Idaho paramedic starts nonprofit after facing mental health struggle

The paramedic plans to fund mental health treatment for fellow first responders

By EMS1 Staff

MERIDIAN, Idaho — An Idaho paramedic who struggled with suicidal thoughts is starting a nonprofit to help fellow first responders receive mental health treatment.

Ada County Paramedic Cameo Akins told KIVI that, after suffering a mental health crisis in spring that led to her husband calling 911 in fear for her safety, she learned from experts that a combination of factors, including secondary trauma from her job, likely contributed to her suicidal ideations.

Wanting to help other first responders facing similar struggles, Akins started a nonprofit organization called Silence Isn’t Silent, which seeks to fund treatment that isn’t covered by workers’ compensation and employee assistance programs.

“Not every insurance will cover these, and they’re not the cheapest type of treatments, and so our goal is to kind of bridge that gap, and be able to help someone,” Akins said.

Akins comes from a family of first responders – her husband is a firefighter, her brother is a police officer and her father is a retired police officer. She said she understands that a lot of responders suffer in silence.

“We fix things, we don’t need ‘fix,’” she said. “We go out and take care of everybody, we’re not the ones that need to be taken care of.”

Akins said she hopes her organization will also send the message that those who struggle with mental illness and thoughts of suicide are not alone.

“I want them to know that it’s okay not to be okay, and there are people out there who can help you, and to reach out,” she said.

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