AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several new efforts to provide mental health resources could be coming for Austin’s first responders.
In 2019, the Austin City Council directed city staff to study how to fill the gaps in mental health resources for EMS, fire and police personnel. On Monday, the Public Safety Commission approved the study results and the recommendations made for improvements.
A document provided during the meeting stated the commission believes that “the mental and physical health of our first responders is key to the safety of the citizens of Austin.”
They voted 6 to 1 to support the following efforts:
- Establish a city-sponsored fund to retain a psychiatrist for first responders
- Establish protocol for mental health days
- Provide specialized training for public safety leadership on handling mental health issues for first responders
- Develop and administer training on social-justice-informed mental health care
- Hire two full-time employees to assist psychologists and Peer Support coordinators
- Additional funding for peer support activities
- Revisit departmental policies for to accept the use of CBD oil for first responders
- Implement annual behavioral health check-ins for first responders
- Increased funding allocation for Dr. Tania Glenn & Associates (third-party counselor and resource)
- Coordinate a joint statement from City leadership, Associations, and Department management that commits to limitations on sharing mental health treatment information and that seeking therapy will not have negative repercussions on a first responder’s career