Ill. lawmaker introduces bill expanding access to federal funds for mental health support

Under the proposed act, federal grant funding for mental wellness support would no longer carry a funding match requirement

By Amanda Lien

WASHINGTON — An Ill. congresswoman has introduced legislation to expand access to federal resources for programs to support first responder mental health and wellness.

The First Responder Resiliency Act, introduced by Rep. Robin Kelly, would exempt federal job-related mental health grants issued under the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services and FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants from requirements that departments be prepared to match the funds, according to a press release issued by Kelly’s office.

“We consistently hear from local communities and governments about the challenge of finding local matching funds for federal grant programs,” Kelly wrote in a press release. “When given the choice between using limited local matching funds for public safety equipment or responder wellness, most departments will forego their own needs in order to pursue the greatest public good. This bill will ensure that no department is forced to make this impossible choice between responder wellness and public safety. This bill will allow departments to use their limited matching funds for public safety equipment and programs while still pursuing grants to support resiliency and first responder wellness.”

First responder organizations such as the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the National Police Suicide Foundation have endorsed the bill.

“Our nation’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day and the daily stress of their challenging profession can affect their personal lives and mental health,” said National Police Suicide Foundation Executive Director Dr. Robert Douglas Jr. “By exempting job-related mental health grant funding from the matching fund requirement, we can ensure that more officers and more departments have the resources and programs necessary to ensure that officers go home safe and healthy, in body and mind.”

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