At present, first responders in Florida are eligible for medical insurance under workers’ compensation. However, if they are unable to work owing to job-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they don’t get lost wages. But now things are going to change – the recent approval of bill SB 376 by the Florida Legislature talks of covering lost wages for first responders with PTSD. Florida Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill that will bring a huge relief to thousands of first responders, including firefighters and police officers, who work under tremendous pressure while discharging their duties.
Speaking at an event honoring firefighters who lost their lives while on duty, Scott said that he was more than eager to sign the bill. “I intend to sign it as soon it makes it to my desk. What this will do is ensure firefighters suffering from PTSD can receive workers’ comp benefits,” Scott said. Meanwhile, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who also holds the post of the state fire marshal, expressed happiness over the passage of the legislation.
Getting the bill cleared, however, was not a cakewalk. It remained hauled up last year in the Republican-dominated Legislature of Florida. It was looming with uncertainties this year too. The cost to the local governments — in paying for police and fire departments — remained a concern for the Florida League of Cities. However, after the high school shooting in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018, that killed 17 people, the opposition to the bill somewhat faded.
For first responders, it is common to suffer from PTSD, considering the level of threat they endure. At least three first responders who were on duty during the 2016 Orlando shooting publicly admitted to having been diagnosed with PTSD. The gruesome incident at the Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead laid the foundation for the introduction of this legislation.
Stressful jobs and PTSD
Firefighting is one of the most stressful jobs in this world. Along with firefighters, there are other people, including soldiers, police officers, and disaster response personnel, whose work carry a high amount of stress. Such people have a higher propensity to suffer from mental health conditions like PTSD, after being exposed to varying degrees of violence. Hence, offering them medical coverage as compensation, along with lost wages, is a welcome move. The Florida bill would definitely bring relief to thousands of firefighters and other first responders who have to deal with PTSD after being exposed to stressful circumstances as part of their duties.
Anyone who is directly exposed to a traumatic event can suffer from PTSD, which is not a sign of feebleness. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 7-8 percent of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. The VA data also shows that nearly 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year.
Dealing with mental health disorders
Whether it is PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder or more severe conditions like bipolar disorder, it is never easy living with mental health issues. However, treatment is possible for most mental health conditions when intervened at the right juncture. One can easily manage symptoms and lead a healthy life by seeking help from a credible mental health treatment center.
Sovereign Health of Florida, a premier behavioral health treatment provider, offers holistic mental health treatment to patients suffering from a range of psychiatric problems. If you have a loved one grappling with any mental health issues, call our 24/7 helpline member for more information on our evidence-based treatment for mental health in your vicinity.