Sydney-based resilience startup Driven announces a partnership with FirstWatch to improve the mental health of first responders such as paramedics, firefighters, crisis call centre staff and police officers.

“First responders are extraordinarily caring people with extensive practical training to do their work, yet we find that little training is provided around the mental impact from the challenges they face,” says Jurie Rossouw, CEO and co-founder of Driven.

“To help responders prepare for these challenges through a preventative approach, Driven measures and builds resilience proactively through personalised daily resilience training activities.”

Covering over 130 million Americans, clients of FirstWatch include 9-1-1 dispatch centres, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and police, among others. Interest in the initiative come from a fast-growing problem in responder mental health. Firefighters alone are 10 times more likely to consider or attempt suicide, with more dying from suicide than in the line of duty.

Resilience is increasingly being understood as a way to overcome and even protect against depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The partnership hopes to provide both a proactive and reactive way to improve mental health in this specialised industry.

Driven’s track record includes use in clinical practice by a hundreds of psychologists, with business looking to improve staff wellness, and in schools to increase student resilience.

“Stress, PTSD, and suicides in the emergency services workforce are some of the challenging issues our customers deal with. Our collaboration with Driven allows us to bring a tangible, neuroscience-based, affordable solution to our EMS, Fire, and Law Enforcement colleagues for the first time ever,” says Todd Stout, President of FirstWatch.

While the virtual coach was launched in 2017, Driven took an unusual approach to firstpublish peer-reviewed research in 2016 on the neuroscience and psychological components of the program. This scientific validation proved to be helpful to gain revenue early from psychologists and therapists to bootstrap the company as the service evolved.

Since then, Driven has initiated more than 20 new research projects with various universities worldwide, investigating different aspects of resilience using its neuroscience-based approach that covers both mental and physical aspects of resilience.

“What makes Driven different is that we combine scientifically validated psychometric assessments with personalised chatbot-style daily training. Our research results show that this approach motivates people to stick with it, which is what really builds deep resilience,” adds Rossouw.

Growing quickly, Driven now has 10 staff in their Sydney office. Meanwhile, partnerships provide a way to speed up access to new markets and address the needs of specific industries, such as FirstWatch and their broad first responder client base.

“What’s really valuable about a partnership with FirstWatch is their amazing relationship with their clients. Together we are creating tailored content that speaks to the specific challenges of first responders, helping us connect with people in a more meaningful way,” he said.

Adding to the clinical and enterprise focus, Driven will launch an Android and iOS app next to open the resilience platform for consumer access.

“Resilience is such a universally important skill – we all need it. It has huge preventative power, meaning in the long term it can really help to improve mental health on a global scale.”

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