Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to Improve Mental Health Services for Law Enforcement Officers
The House Judiciary Committee today approved by voice vote a bipartisan bill to improve mental health services for law enforcement officers.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 (H.R. 2228), introduced by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), directs the Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to develop resources to equip local law enforcement agencies to address mental health challenges faced by officers. The bill also makes grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, develop training for mental health providers specific to law enforcement mental health needs, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.
The 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States have one of the most stressful occupations in the world. Research has shown time and again that police officer occupational stress is directly related to higher rates of heart disease, divorce, sick days taken, alcohol abuse, and major psychological illnesses such as acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders. Many police departments have instituted mental health programs as preventative measures. These programs have had significant, successful results, such as a decrease in the number of police officer suicides.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded today’s Committee approval of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Our nation’s law enforcement officers have one of the toughest jobs in the nation. Every day, they risk their lives to keep the peace and protect our neighborhoods from criminals. Due to the stressful nature of their occupations, law enforcement officers need better access to mental health services to improve their health and help alleviate the anxiety that is a byproduct of their jobs. The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act provides a number of resources to help improve mental health services for police officers cross the country. I thank Congresswoman Brooks for her work on this bipartisan bill and call on the House to take it up without delay.”
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Officers, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.