New Police Mental Health Awareness Law Celebrated

Jan 30, 2018

A Lebanon police officer will join U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

Taylor Nielsen helped inspire a new law that grows mental health resources for officers. After responding to a 2016 murder of a mother and her young son, Nielsen displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“And then I was diagnosed with PTSD in July and that following October is when I attempted to take my own life,” says Nielsen.

Her willingness to talk about those challenges opened the door to work with lawmakers and law enforcement on new legislation. The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act helps police departments start programs and develop new resources to address the mental health challenges of police.

Donnelly says there will be funds for officers to connect with help when they need it.

“Grants for peer mentoring so that other officers who have dealt with these challenges before can help those that are struggling with them right now,” says Donnelly.

The law will also study the effectiveness of current mental health checks.

Donnelly has helped pass similar legislation to help service members. He says they deal with many of the same challenges.

“Our officers don’t know from day to day what they are going to encounter as they go out on the road, out on the beat,” says Donnelly.

Donnelly worked on the legislation with Republican members of Congress including Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel). President Trump recently signed it into law.