Police officers and firefighters need help with PTSD

California's police officers and firefighters see and hear horrific things in their jobs. When other people turn away or run away, they carry out their sworn duties and go where others cannot. For many, some of those sights and sounds won't go away.

Whether you work as a police officer or a firefighter, you may hesitate to admit that you have trouble dealing with certain incidents. Now, you almost dread going to the job you once loved, and you experience other difficulties as well.

You could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

You don't need to feel alone if you receive a diagnosis of PTSD. Some of your fellow first responders know they have it, but some don't. Even having this knowledge doesn't guarantee you will "get over it" anytime soon. Sadly, some police officers and firefighters cannot escape their work-related traumas and take their own lives. In 2017, 240 police officers and firefighters committed suicide. That number is higher than the number who died in the line of duty that year.

People tend to think of first responders as impervious to the traumas they see every day. Even those within the organizations tend to believe in putting on a tough face, but that only tends to add to the problem. You should have the freedom to acknowledge your condition and receive help for it.

Is there anything that can be done?

California presumes a number of illnesses and injuries are related to your work, so you can receive benefits for them. Sadly, PTSD is currently not one of them. A bill before state lawmakers could change that. It would allow you to receive workers' compensation benefits to receive the mental health care you need. Until lawmakers make a decision regarding this bill, your claim for benefits based on PTSD could meet resistance.

In fact, many local government agencies oppose the bill saying that it would cost too much. They claim that some would take advantage of the available benefits. Some assume that because this is not a physical ailment, a diagnosis would call for more subjectivity rather than objectivity. With all of the research done on this particular mental ailment, many would disagree. Only time will tell, and it's safe to say that many of the state's workers' compensation attorneys are keeping a close eye on the status of the bill.

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