‘Find your mission’: Grand Strand first responder creates nonprofit, podcast for mental health awareness

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:13 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:00 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - First responders witness more traumatic events in a single year than most people do in their lifetimes.

The weight of it all can start to add up, and some first responders may not know where to turn to for help.

That feeling is what William Bowering is looking to eliminate.

Bowering is a first responder and also the founder and chairman of Day 1 Week 1, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money and awareness for mental health support for first responders.

Bowering can recall the moment he knew he needed to prioritize his mental health.

“One of my best friends, who fought through Vietnam, came to my house on the day I thought everything had been lost and I had made that decision in my mind. He came to my house, he placed his hand behind my neck and he put his head to my head and he said, ‘You’re not gonna do this on my watch ‘cause I’m here with you,’” Bowering said.

According to the CDC, first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Bowering knew the burden of his job was weighing down on him, and he was far from alone.

“Last year in America, the numbers for first responders that killed themselves was over 450. 450! If you take that per month, that’s 37 first responders every single month that are killing themselves,” Bowering said.

In addition to the nonprofit, Bowering hosts a podcast of the same name. It’s in its early days with just a few episodes, but Bowering said he’s already seeing the positive impact it’s making.

“I’m seeing feedback from some of the podcasts we’ve already put out from people that have reached out and said, ‘You have no idea what state I was in,’ and something that was said on the podcast helped them,” Bowering said.

He also said the progress made towards eliminating the stigma around mental health is encouraging and impressive, but there’s still lots of work to be done.

Part of what helped Bowering improve his mental health was finding his purpose. He said a combination of his faith, his family, his coworkers, and counseling have helped him take care of his mental health.

He recommends everyone build themselves a support system, but also find what motivates them each and every day.

“I don’t have a business degree, I don’t have a college education, I don’t have any of those things. But I have a burden in my heart that too many brothers and sisters are killing themselves. I want it to stop. If I can say anything to anybody, find your purpose. Find your mission.”

You can listen to Day 1 Week 1 on all major streaming platforms.