SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago, co-sponsored legislation that will dedicate the third Friday of May as “First Responder Mental Health Awareness Day” in an effort to raise public awareness for the struggles many first responders face.
“The horrific events that first responders face on a regular basis can cause tremendous mental strain on even the most experienced in the field,” Hurley said. “Even when they leave work, the sights and sounds of tragic accidents and crimes stay with them.”
House Bill 4345 dedicates the third Friday in May each year as “First Responder Mental Health Awareness Day,” which would be May 18th this year. The day is meant to raise public awareness of the mental health issues common among first responders, such as depression and PTSD, as well as honor firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who have tragically taken their lives. In 2016, 108 police officers committed suicide, and 113 firefighters and paramedics committed suicide in the year prior. House Bill 4345 passed the Illinois House with bipartisan support and is set to be debated on the Senate floor.
“Many of our departments do Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and other practices to help combat the mental stress that comes with the job, but there is always more that can be done,” Hurley said. “We need to show our support for our first responders and encourage those who need it to seek help after all they have done to protect us.”