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Law Enforcement Mental Health Bill Clears U.S. Senate

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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A bill to increase mental health funding for law enforcement officers has passed the U.S. Senate.

The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act would make mental health peer mentoring programs eligible for grant money. It also directs the attorney general’s office to issue a report on best practices, and to see if a national crisis hotline is needed.

Jessica Realin’s husband is an Orlando Police officer diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after responding to the Pulse night club shooting.

“They are subjected to a certain amount of stress and some of the incidents they’re exposed to are pretty severe, and they need to be able to have coverage to get the help,” Realin said. “We’re outraged by fatalities within their profession, however we lose more first responders to PTSD related suicide than we do with actual fatalities in the profession.”

The bill’s next stop is in the U.S. House of Representatives. It follows after a Florida bill to expand workers’ compensation coverage to first responders with PTSD failed in the Florida Legislature this year.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.