CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham passed a bill through the Senate on Friday, which aims to provide mental health support and education for law enforcement officers who are facing post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We are not passing any new mandate on law enforcement,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “We are creating a supportive resource that officers can utilize for specific traumatic situations and for PTSD."

The Statewide PTSD Mental Health Coordinator will be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and shall serve for a term of four years. The coordinator will be responsible for providing resources, information and assistance to law enforcement officers who may be experiencing PTSD symptoms or other mental health issues related to their work.

47% of law enforcement officers screen positive for PTSD using the Primary Care Screen, which is ten times greater than the general population. The bill is not intended to mandate that local police departments implement a plan to address PTSD or a set of requirements for how to operate mental health and wellness plans within their department, but rather to provide a supportive resource that departments and individual officers can turn to when seeking help.

"We can’t just talk about mental health – we have to put our money where our mouth is and give law enforcement access to more resources,” said Cunningham.

Senate Bill 1543 passed the Senate and awaits further action in the House.