TETAF | Workgroup Forming to Address Mental Health-care Access for First Responders
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Workgroup Forming to Address Mental Health-care Access for First Responders

16 Oct

Workgroup Forming to Address Mental Health-care Access for First Responders

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission seeks volunteers to develop and make recommendations on mental health-care access for first responders. HHSC is looking for people with professional and personal experience with crisis or emergency response, crisis or emergency mental health services, and mental health benefits for first responder organizations.

To apply, download and submit an application by Oct, 20, 2017.

Work group members contribute their time, experience and knowledge to address issues related to mental health disorders and substance use disorder parity and will provide recommendations to address:

  • The difference in access to mental health care services between small and large agencies:
    • Small agencies include volunteer fire departments, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services providers.
    • Large agencies include law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services providers.
  • Potential solutions for state and local governments to provide greater access to mental health care services for first responders.
  • The sufficiency of first responder organizations’ employee health insurance plans for obtaining access to mental health care services for first responders.
  • The sufficiency of first responder organizations’ human resources policies, including:
    • Whether guaranteed employment should be offered for a first responder who self-reports a mental health issue.
    • The effectiveness of existing municipal employee assistance programs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and whether those programs should be expanded.
    • Policy modifications necessary to improve access to mental health care services for first responders.
    • The establishment of best practices for municipalities, counties and state agencies regarding legal reporting duties for first responders anonymously seeking mental health treatment.
  • The effectiveness of workers’ compensation and other benefit claims for first responders, including determining:
    • The process by which those claims for first responders are handled and whether that process may be improved.
    • The feasibility of requiring post-traumatic stress disorder to be covered under workers’ compensation for first responders and if covered, the standards for diagnosing that condition.
    • The effectiveness of workers’ compensation benefits and related benefits under Chapter 607, Government Code, and whether those benefits are excessively denied.
    • The effectiveness of outsourcing workers’ compensation and other benefit claims to third parties.
    • Methods for improving the appeals process for workers’ compensation and other benefit claims.
  • The feasibility of mental health training during the licensing or certification and renewal process for first responders.
  • The effectiveness of methods for assessing a first responder’s mental health care needs after a critical incident, including determining:
    • The feasibility of creating a standardized post-critical incident checklist to assess a first responder’s mental health and of establishing minimum requirements for a first responder to return to duty.
    • The effectiveness of critical incident stress debriefing programs used by local governments in this state and whether:
      • Those programs may be expanded statewide.
      • Peer support may benefit those programs.
  • The opportunities for public-private partnerships to provide mental health care services to first responders.
  • Possible Texas-specific barriers, including stigmas, for first responders seeking mental health care services.

15 work group members may be appointed by the HHSC executive commissioner. Positions open to the general public are filled by:

  • Practicing mental health professionals, as defined by Section 61.601, Education Code;
  • Representatives of volunteer fire departments;
  • Representatives of a sheriffs’ departments;
  • Representatives of emergency medical services providers and personnel licensed under Chapter 773, Health and Safety Code;
  • Representatives of municipal governments; and
  • Representatives of county governments.

For more information, email Novella Evans.



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