They are the first to come to people’s rescue when things go wrong and mishaps occur, and yet, they are the ones suffering for their chosen profession today. Texas state representative, John Wray filed a legislation recently to allow worker’s compensation benefits for the first respondents – cops and firefighters – suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Currently, the only way for these first responders afflicted with PTSD to get worker’s compensation coverage is by asserting they suffer from mental illness which can then be held against them and can provide grounds for dismissal from their jobs, not to mention the inability to find any other job and face the stigma that goes with a mental illness.
PTSD has the power to ruin lives, family relationships and the careers of those impacted. First respondents’ jobs make them susceptible to PTSD and a lot of them suffer from it in silence. PTSD in first respondents usually goes unreported owing to the financial burden which comes along with it due to missing work and getting the appropriate treatment. Wray’s house bill (HB) 1983 aims to change all this.
Bill supported by police association
California has the highest instances of suicides among officers. According to a study entitled National Surveillance of Police Suicides (NSOPS) conducted by the Badge of Life, an organization committed to the psychological survival of police officers, mental stress drove about 108 law enforcement officers to commit suicide in 2016 across the U.S.
Texas Municipal Police Association’s Kevin Lawrence supports HB 1983 and feels it isn’t fair for the first respondents to pay for the treatment of PTSD out of their pockets when it is a result of what they have to endure at work, day after day. There is an ever-increasing need for support to the first respondents. The July 2016 shooting in Dallas, which saw five police officers dead and nine others injured, is one of the various incidents that emphasize on the need for Wray’s initiative.
Having to pay out of their own pockets provides the officers with one more reason to not get help for what they are going through. It is extremely important to ensure those providing the first response are in the best of their form – both physically and mentally – because if they won’t be able to work, the citizens are the ones who would be at a loss.
Once passed, HB 1983 would allow the first respondents to seek PTSD treatment through worker’s compensation, without having to declare mental impairment as the cause which can then impact their careers. The bill also includes this provision for peace officers and firefighters. Further, to have access to worker’s compensation, the first respondents should have been impacted by PTSD while conducting an official duty.
Recovery road map
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may develop following a traumatic event, either experienced or witnessed, or on learning that a loved one had a traumatic event. Its symptoms include disturbing thoughts and flashbacks of the episode triggering it and these symptoms make it difficult for the officers to go about conducting their daily duties.
The serious nature of the illness makes it necessary for the officers struggling with this to get help on priority basis. The steps taken by the lawmakers towards making this happen through HB 1983 is appreciated by the police officers’ association and has also generated in them a confidence towards the state that they serve.
If you or your loved one is struggling with PTSD or any other form of anxiety, you can contact Sovereign Health for information on our anxiety disorders treatment centers in California. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for advice on our anxiety treatment centers in California. You can also chat online with our experts.