A local state senator is championing a law to ensure mental health services for law enforcement and firefighters. Illinois firefighters and law enforcement officers will now have a new law in place to help end the mental health stigma in their field. State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) has lent her support to House Bill 2766, which will ensure individuals tasked with providing peer support counseling to law enforcement and firefighters are properly trained. The measure was recently signed into law.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 1 in 4 police officers have thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives. While the National Fire Protection Association reported that empirical data on mental health issues remains scarce, there are suggestions that behavioral health problems among emergency responders may be widespread; studies have found that as many as 37 percent of firefighters may exhibit symptoms of PTSD.
The new law creates a task force to study recommendations to help reduce the risk of suicide among first responders.