Rep. Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Thomson
SANTA FE — House Bill 257, which would help provide behavioral health support to firefighters, passed the House Monday with a bipartisan vote of 64-2.
These support programs would allow firefighters to offer peer-to-peer behavioral health support within their departments. The State Fire Marshal’s Office would offer training courses for fire departments that choose to implement these programs.
The training courses would focus on substance misuse, critical incident stress, grief support, line of duty deaths, serious injury or illness, suicidal thoughts, and workplace issues.
“Throughout their careers, firefighters put themselves on the line to keep New Mexicans safe,” lead bill sponsor Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson said (D-Albuquerque). “These are high risk jobs and providing mental health support is one important way we can show our gratitude to these brave individuals for their service.”
“Whether as the result of a traumatic incident or prolonged stress, firefighters experience PTSD, depression, and anxiety at much higher rates than the general population,” said co-sponsor Rep. Kathleen Cates (D-Rio Rancho). “The peer support programs in HB 257 fill an important void to support the health and well-being of our first responders.”
Additional sponsors are Rep. Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces) and Sen. Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics (D-Cerrillos). HB 257 now heads to the Senate.
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