HEALTH

Lawmakers pursue mental health support for first responders

Feb 4, 2022, 11:38 AM | Updated: 11:38 am
utah state capitol first responders mental health...
(File photo: The reflecting pool at the Utah State Capitol. Photo: Paul Nelson)
(File photo: The reflecting pool at the Utah State Capitol. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would fund more mental health services for Utah first responders won approval in the House of Representatives, a key step in the journey to the governor’s desk. 

It would require agencies such as police and fire departments to provide mental health services for all first responders: employees, retirees, and their families. 

Rep. Matthew Gwynn, R-Farr West, is also the Roy police chief. He choked up as he shared some of his own mental health struggles over his years in police work. He knew a sergeant who died by suicide and tried to help a young officer through a divorce. But he felt ill-equipped. 

“And while I can talk to them about it, I’m certainly not qualified to be a therapist by any means,” he said. “I work in a 40 man department.” 

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, asked for a moment of silence in honor of fallen first responders, whose family members observed the vote, after H.B. 23 passed. 

The bill heads next to the Senate. If approved there, it would go to the governor.

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Lawmakers pursue mental health support for first responders