State Watch

Dallas officials eye mental health leave for first responders

Dallas officials are considering enacting a policy that would grant paramedics and firefighters the opportunity to take paid leave for their mental health after they experience a traumatic incident while on duty.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (D) proposed the plan, citing city rules that allow police officers up to five days of mental health paid leave. Members of the Dallas city council are set to review the potential new policy on Feb. 14 during a public safety committee meeting, according to The Dallas Morning News.

“We must treat the mental health of our first responders as a top priority,” Johnson reportedly wrote in a memo to council member Adam McGough, who chairs the public safety committee. “While this proposal and its impacts should be thoroughly vetted by the public safety committee, I believe it is important to begin this discussion as soon as possible.”

In September, a new Texas state law went into effect requiring law enforcement agencies to produce mental health leave policies for officers who have been impacted by a traumatic incident while on duty, the Morning News noted.

The Dallas City Council in October approved a measure granting police officers paid mental health leave. Under the rule, a psychiatrist or psychologist must confirm that there is a need for the officer to take leave, according to the news outlet.

Dallas Fire Fighters Association President Jim McDade told the Morning News that both paramedics and firefighters can often experience traumatic events similar to police officers and that those experiences can affect their personal lives.

According to McDade, at least five members of Dallas’s fire department have died by suicide over the last five years, the news outlet reported.

“I think it’s something that gets overlooked and we need to address it and start taking our mental health more seriously,” McDade said, according to the Morning News. 

Tags Dallas Dallas Eric Johnson Mental health paid leave

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