HARTFORD – Today, State Representative William A. Petit Jr. (R-22) and his colleagues in the House voted unanimously in favor of a bill to expand workers compensation benefits, including mental health treatment for police and parole officers and members of the fire service.
SB-164, An Act Including Certain Mental or Emotional Impairments Within the Definition of “Personal Injury” Under Workers’ Compensation Statutes, will now include individuals who have been diagnosed with PTSD by a board-certified & licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.
“I was incredibly moved by the comments made by one of my colleagues, State Representative Rick Hayes, who served for 33 years in law enforcement,” Rep Petit said. Representative Hayes said in part that there are police officers and first responders in this state that have stuff locked up inside of them and they are afraid to let it go. These people are our heroes, they have to know that its ok to talk about it, that its ok to get help, and I completely agree.”
The benefit as outlined in this bill will be available for a maximum of 52 weeks.
In order to qualify, individuals must have had the PTSD come as a direct result of a qualifying event that occurred in the line of duty, and not due to any intervening factor or other source of stress.
In addition it prohibits law enforcement agencies from disciplining or penalizing officers for seeking mental health services. It allows firearms used in the performance of official duties to be returned once a mental health professional examines them and certifies their fitness to return to work. In addition it develops a model critical incident and peer support policy to support mental, health care and wellness for law enforcement, parole officers and firefighters.
Any new fire service member, or law enforcement or parole officer who are hired on or after January 1, 2020 will receive resilience and self-care technique training as a result of this bill.
Lastly, the bill creates a study to consider the inclusion of EMS providers under the provisions of this law. Many felt they should be included at this time.
“I hope the legislature will address this inclusion in 2020,” Petit said.
The bill received unanimous support in both the House and Senate, it will now head to the governor’s desk for his signature.