Indianapolis-based ProTeam Tactical Performance has unveiled a platform to support the mental health efforts of police and fire departments. The company, co-founded by former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Sorgi and former St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Joey Vandever, says SHIELD allows departments to take a proactive approach to behavioral health. ProTeam was founded in 2018 to help first responders recover from and prevent injuries similar to how collegiate and professional athletic teams operate.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Sorgi said SHIELD has been two years in the making.
“You know, it gets to the point where public safety just sees so much that their bucket just gets too full and it overflows,” Sorgi said. “Well, [we said] let’s give them a tool that allows them to empty that bucket along their career to hopefully never get to that breaking point.”
ProTeam says the confidential, HIPAA-compliant platform allows users to self-evaluate depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress and other issues through questionnaires. Based on the results, the users are then provided access to resources at the departmental, local and national level they can utilize to seek the support they need anonymously.
“We see depression rates are five times higher amongst firefighters than the general population, 37% suffer from PTSD and over a third self-report struggling with substance abuse,” Vandever said in written remakrs. “We want to help departments evaluate their existing behavioral health efforts, break the stigma in their department, and take a proactive approach to both physical and mental health for the betterment of their men and women.”
Sorgi says while ProTeam is focusing on public safety, the SHIELD model could be used in any industry.
“Nobody knows the other person’s story, whether it’s athletics, whether it’s industrial, whether it’s public safety, the pressures of life can get to you,” he said. “We built it for public safety because there’s no better people to serve than the people that come serve you when you’re in your time of need. But, it’s a platform that could reach everybody and provide that tool to just self-appraise where you’re at.”
The new platform is the latest component of ProTeam’s growth over the last four years. The company operates out of the Pacers Athletic Center at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield and the Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416 union hall in downtown Indianapolis.
Sorgi says later this month, the company will begin operating out of a new location in Merrillville.
“You can just tell that the receptiveness of what we’re trying to offer these men and women of public safety is something they’ve needed for a long time. It’s something that they’re truly grateful for and we’re honored and grateful that we’re able to provide it for them.”
ProTeam employs about 20 at its different locations, including athletic trainers and physical therapists.