GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) hosted a symposium at Lanier Technical College Wednesday to explore mental health resources for first responders.
In 2018, at least 159 first responders nationwide died from suicide — nearly 10% more than the total number of line-of-duty deaths resulting from causes such as assault, vehicle accidents, heart attacks, and duty-related illness.
“Mental health is just as essential as physical health in order for our law enforcement officers to remain effective in keeping our communities safe, yet first responders often face serious trauma resulting from their line of work,” said Collins. “As the son of a Georgia State Trooper, I understand firsthand the challenges facing our officers, and I am committed to ensuring they have access to the resources needed to address their health and well-being.”
The following agencies presented on resources available for first responders: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-Disaster Technical Assistance Center; Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services; Federal Emergency Management Agency-National Fire Academy; Department of Veterans Affairs-National Center on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Georgia Public Safety Training Center; Georgia State Patrol-Wellness Officer; Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office-Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator; and Hall County Employee Assistance Program.
The following agencies attended the symposium: Commerce Police Department; Forsyth County Sherriff’s Office; Habersham County Emergency Medical Service; Hall County Sheriff’s Office; Hall County Fire Service; and Jackson County Emergency Medical Service.
“I want to thank the many agencies who traveled near and far to participate in today’s symposium. Their feedback is invaluable as we explore ways to help meet the needs of our first responders, and I will continue to seek their input as we work towards drafting legislation to address these issues.”
In March 2019, the Department of Justice submitted a report to Congress detailing the gap of law enforcement mental wellness and programs. The report listed several recommendations to assist first responders’ access to mental health care, including possible legislative solutions.
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