A new ordinance extending breaks and breather to the city officials of Dallas has been approved according to a Dallas Morning News article from March 10 which reports,
“Dallas city employees who experience a traumatic event while on duty will be able to take paid time off to address mental health concerns.
The Dallas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved creating a new rule that expands paid mental health leave to 8,000 workers, including firefighters and 911 call takers.
Council member Jaime Resendez, who said he experienced post-traumatic stress from his army service, said he thought the approval was important. He mentioned trauma a friend of his experienced as one of the firefighters injured last fall during an explosion at a southern Dallas apartment complex.
“I think moving this initiative forward helps to destigmatize these types of mental health issues and hopefully encourage more of our DFR employees and people who work for the city in general to seek treatment,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Originally, Mayor Eric Johnson entertained the proposed time off for firefighters and police officers who were already granted the same last October according to a Dallas Morning News article from February 2. They say,
“We must treat the mental health of our first responders as a top priority,” Johnson wrote in a memo Monday to council member Adam McGough, who chairs the public safety committee. “While this proposal and its impacts should be thoroughly vetted by the public safety committee, I believe it is important to begin this discussion as soon as possible.”
The City Council approved the mental health leave rule for police officers in October. A licensed psychiatrist or psychologist must verify the need for the leave.
Firefighters and paramedics often experience many of the same traumatic events as police officers, and burdens of the job can bleed into their personal lives, said Dallas Fire Fighters Association President Jim McDade. He said Dallas’ fire department has had at least five members die by suicide in the last five years.
“I think it’s something that gets overlooked and we need to address it and start taking our mental health more seriously,” McDade said.
The ordinance will take effect immediately to accommodate current city officials and it is estimated to cover 800 workers that will amount to at least $705,000.