SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an effort to raise awareness for the mental health issues among first responders, state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, sponsored legislation that will dedicate this Friday and every third Friday of May as “First Responder Mental Health Awareness Day”.
“We often only talk about the physical effects of being a first responder, but we need to also talk about the very real psychological effects that also goes with the job,” Jones said. “Between horrific sights of sights of accidents and having to make life and death decisions, depression, PTSD and many other mental health issues are problems that our first responders face due to their work of serving our communities.”
The Jones sponsored House Bill 4345 dedicates the third Friday in May of each year as First Responder Mental Health Awareness Day, which would be May 18 this year. The day is to recognize first responders who have taken their own lives and is meant to draw awareness to mental health issues common among firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who suffer from PTSD and depression. Many departments try to do Critical Incident stress Debriefing (CISD), but even experienced first responders are prone to work related mental illness. House Bill 4345 passed the House of Representative with unanimous support. .
“Many of our first responders live with depression and other mental health issues every day, but they put their needs second to protecting our safety,” Jones said. “I believe we need to take time to acknowledge their struggle and show our support for them.”