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Colorado lawmaker proposes adding PTSD to workplace injury list

The National Institute of Mental Health says post-traumatic stress disorder can develop in some people who live through “a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm.” As you know, Denver police can often find themselves in situations in which they are threatened with violence and injury, as they try to keep the rest of us safe.

Now a Colorado lawmaker is proposing to add PTSD to the list of workplace injuries for police officers in the state. Rep. Jonathan Singer says he and supporters of the bill are “just trying to put fairness in the system to take care of police the same way they take care of us.”

NIH says that when PTSD develops in some people after a life-threatening ordeal, they can continue to feel stress and fear after the incident is over. Ordeals that can trigger PTSD include combat, rape, workplace violence, car accidents, natural disasters and so on.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police said some officers must deal with “day-to-day carnage” that can be difficult to process. He said the organization’s concern is that once PTSD develops, the officer is then eligible for treatment.   

The NIH says on its website that the most common treatment approaches are psychotherapy that can help people change behaviors and antidepressant medications.  

A state House committee is going to study Singer’s proposal. If the bill becomes law, it could make it easier for police officers suffering from PTSD to receive not only workers’ compensation, but also the medical help they need.

Source: CBS Denver, "Police PTSD Would Qualify For Workplace Injury In Proposed Bill," April 23, 2014

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