Minnesota legislative session yields $100 million for first responder PTSD treatment

Mental health funding for first responders

Mental health funding for first responders

The recently adjourned Minnesota Legislature put the finishing touches on a bill that will pump $100 million into law enforcement agencies and fire departments across the state to help with first responders who’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Jeff Potts, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS there have been about 800 PTSD retirement claims since 2020, and 90% of those were law enforcement officers.

“It’s an alarming rate, and our hope is that we keep as many of them as possible back in the job,” Potts said.

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Potts said the pool of money will allow law enforcement agencies and fire departments to be reimbursed for the PTSD treatments received by their employees.

“Twenty-four weeks of treatment with a possible extension of another eight weeks, which is 32 weeks in total of treatment,” Potts said. “And our research shows that most of the people who do go get the treatment are going to be successful in managing that PTSD, that mental health injury, and they’ll be able to come back to work.”

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano says she has supported PTSD treatment for first responders for many years.

“I feel, and have, as you know, we have a moral obligation, I believe, to not just turn these people out as broken former officers or firefighters,” Palmisano said. “Scientifically, we know that PTSD is largely treatable if you get the help that’s needed.”

The money will be available starting Aug. 1 and is one-time funding. But Potts said that should last about three to four years. Once it’s used up, they will ask the Legislature to continue the funding with ongoing appropriations.