Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed by voice vote the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 (H.R. 2228), a bipartisan bill that was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last month to improve mental health services for law enforcement officers.
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, introduced by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), directs the Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to develop resources to equip local law enforcement agencies to address mental health challenges faced by officers. The bill also makes grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs and develop training for mental health providers specific to law enforcement mental health needs. The bill also supports law enforcement officers by directing the Justice Department to study the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.
The 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States have one of the most stressful occupations in the world. Research has shown time and again that police officer occupational stress is directly related to higher rates of heart disease, divorce, alcohol abuse, and major psychological illnesses such as acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders. Many police departments have instituted mental health programs as preventative measures. These programs have had significant, successful results, such as a decrease in the number of police officer suicides.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded today’s House approval of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act in the statement below.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Our nation’s law enforcement officers have one of the toughest jobs in the world. Every day, they risk their lives to keep the peace and protect our neighborhoods from criminals. Due to the stressful nature of their occupations, law enforcement officers need better access to mental health services to improve their health and help alleviate the anxiety that is a byproduct of their jobs. The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act provides a number of resources to help improve mental health services for police officers across the country. I applaud the House for passing Congresswoman Brooks’ bipartisan bill and call on the Senate to take it up without delay.”
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Officers, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.