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New State Legislation Supporting the Mental Health of First Responders

July 24, 2020

Yesterday, Governor Wolf signed into law bipartisan legislation intended to better support the stress management and mental health needs of Pennsylvania’s emergency responders.

Act 69, sponsored by Representatives Michael H. Schlossberg and Frank Farry, directs the Department of Health and other state agencies to establish programs that increase education and awareness in order to provide a stronger support system of trained professionals who are aware of the unique situations commonly faced by first responders.

The legislation mandates the creation of:

  • Mental wellness and stress management guidelines
  • Peer-to-peer support programs
  • Alcohol, substance abuse, or chemical dependence treatment and recovery support
  • Stress management education and support
  • Toll-free helpline and adequately trained operators
  • Trauma and suicide impact awareness training

In addition, a Statewide Critical Incident Stress Management Program will be established to identify the impact that critical events have on the state’s emergency responders. Established non-profit organizations in Pennsylvania that already provide mental health treatment programs for emergency responders will receive additional support.

Pennsylvania’s frontline hospitals as well as HAP’s emergency management team, work daily with our state’s first responders in emergency medical services, law enforcement, and fire protection, and understand the importance of mental wellness initiatives and support programs for this high-stress environment. Our first responders are vital to the health care continuum, providing the highest level of pre-hospital care to our citizens and visitors. HAP’s Emergency Management team will monitor program development and share important information as it is available.

For more information about HAP’s emergency management and preparedness services, please contact Scott Mickalonis, HAP’s vice president, emergency management.