OKLAHOMA CITY, Oct. 10, 2023 — As World Mental Health Day is celebrated globally today, Devon Energy Corp. and the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, is honoring Oklahoma first responders who took in a three-part podcast series on stress and anxiety’s effect on cardiovascular health.

Emergency personnel were invited to listen to the podcast series by Carrie Slatton-Hodges, Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Roughly 1 in 3 Americans report being worried and more than half of U.S. adults say that COVID-19 negatively impacted their mental well-being due to worry and stress. Many first responders have been especially impacted by the pandemic, which has amplified the stress in an already intense profession. A recent study found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression can be almost five times as high among firefighters and police officers than the general public.

“Despite the high rate of first responders suffering from mental health challenges, a stigma remains for those seeking mental health care,” said Clay Gaspar, chief operating officer for Devon and a member of the American Heart Association’s Southwest Region board of directors.

“Among first responders, fears surrounding confidentiality or negative career impact may cause them to not seek help. Hopefully, this podcast series helped alleviate the stigma,” Gaspar added.

After watching each podcast, viewers were asked to complete a correlating questionnaire. Those who did were entered for a chance for Devon to donate a CPR in Schools Training Kit™ to a high school in their community to help seniors meet their CPR education graduation requirement for graduation.

The first-responder honorees and the high schools that will receive CPR training kits are:

  • Beth Massey (Blaine County), Watonga High School
  • William Schlegel (Kingfisher County), Kingfisher High School
  • Jerome McCalvin (Caddo County), Binger-Oney High School
  • Jim Shelton (Canadian County), Geary High School

“We set out to bring awareness to the mental health struggles first responders can face, and as a byproduct, four schools in Oklahoma received CPR in Schools Training Kits,” said Gaspar. “The kits enable students to learn the lifesaving skill of CPR in just one class period. They’re also reusable – one kit can train hundreds of people.”


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries

Cyd King: M 479.263.8473; cyd.king@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org