Bill would give first responders workers’ comp for mental illness

Bill would give first responders workers’ comp for mental illness
Workers' Comp for mental illness (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The bill is designed to give emergency first responders dealing with mental illnesses, like post traumatic stress disorder, more options when it comes to treatment.

Right now, first responders in Alabama are not guaranteed workers’ compensation for mental illness that arise while they are on the job.

In order to be covered, a mental issue would have to occur alongside a physical injury while on the job.

House Bill 44, which is being heard Wednesday, would , mandate worker’s comp for mental illnesses that arise while the person is working.

Monretta Vega, a counselor at Huntsville Psychotherapy & Counseling Services, said mental illnesses like PTSD can have serious long term effects on first responders, especially if they go untreated.

“If we’re not taking use of our resources that we may have, especially now, we may be looking at long term effects," Vega said. "Even though as a first responder you have learned to cope with different things and have stress relievers, it’s very important that you decompress what you see, what you witness and what you endure.”

Vega said it’s important for emergency first responders to have easy access to mental health services and putting those services under worker’s comp would be a big help.

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