SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Police officers would receive greater mental health education and support under a bill supported by state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, which establishes training programs to help police officers recognize and manage mental health problems for themselves and other law enforcement professionals.
“Police officers face stresses protecting the public and enforcing the law that take a mental toll,” Connor said. “In this modern age, they are no longer just keepers of the peace, we expect them to be substance abuse treatment specialists, divorce counselors, child welfare agents, social service coordinators, and psychologists. They put themselves between the public and danger to keep us safe, and have to wear many hats in their job. It’s time we recognize this can be very hard on a person’s mental health, and that taking care of your mental health isn’t a sign of weakness and should have no stigma. Quite the opposite, it should be encouraged to help deal with the stress.”
Connor supported House Bill 2767, which requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to update regular training to address officer mental wellness and self-care. The course also covers substance abuse and suicide prevention as well as how best to assist fellow officers who are struggling with mental health issues. Officers will be required to pass the course during basic training and again following every three years of service.
“We need to take mental health care and overall wellness more seriously,” continued Connor. “Police officers have one of the most mentally taxing jobs in our society, and the least we can do to repay them for their sacrifices is ensure they are informed through training of services and options to help deal with the mental side effects of their work.”