When people think of workers’ compensation in Florida, police officers and other first responders are rarely the people who come to mind. Getting workers’ comp for mental health problems is also not something many people consider. Yet, according to NBC News, more police officers die by their own hands than in the line of duty. This has been the case for three consecutive years so far.
In 2018, 167 police officers took their own lives. By September of 2019, 142 officers had also done the same. Police officers and other first responders witness crime, violence and its effects on a daily basis. From investigating murder scenes to interrogating victims of sexual assault, the possibilities for developing PTSD are endless. However, these often only act as triggers. The underlying cause often goes back to life experiences outside of work.
Florida and at least seven other states now allow police officers to file for workers’ comp based on PTSD as its own occupational disease. In the past, Florida officers could only make this claim if they suffered a physical injury in the line of duty that led to PTSD. Now, the officer need only receive a diagnosis from a licensed psychologist. At least one police department in Florida also has clinicians and full-time psychologists on board to make it easier and less expensive for officers to seek help.
According to NBC Connecticut, many other states are trying to pass similar laws. The news agency estimates that in Connecticut, 80% of firefighters have unresolved or lingering mental health issues stemming from things they witnessed or experienced while working. Currently, 34 states provide workers’ compensation for PTSD with various restrictions.