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Indiana Senators Push Law Enforcement Mental Health Bill

Brandon Smith/WFYI
Lebanon, Ind. police officer Taylor Nielsen discusses her struggle with mental health issues while Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), at far left, and Senator Todd Young (R-Indiana), right of Donnelly, listen.

Indiana U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are pushing legislation to help get law enforcement better access to mental health services.

Lebanon, Indiana, police officer Taylor Nielsen says in the wake of a double-homicide she worked last year, she struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide.

“Why am I alone? Why isn’t anyone else having these issues? Why can’t I get this out of my head? What is wrong with me? These were the questions that repeatedly ran through my head on a daily basis last year,” Nielsen says.

Legislation introduced by Donnelly and Young would include resources to train mental health providers on the specific challenges officers face, a study on the effectiveness of crisis hotlines for law enforcement, and grants to help local departments create peer mentoring pilot programs.

But getting money for all that could prove difficult in a federal budget climate focused on cuts. Donnelly says he and Young will work to ensure their bill isn’t sidelined.

“In our job, we want to make sure that these men and women have the resources needed,” Donnelly says.

Young says funding mental health resources for law enforcement should be a priority.

“We owe it to this generation but we also owe it to subsequent generations to make sure there’s never a gap in necessary services provided to these individuals,” Young says.

Donnelly says he and Young are gathering support for the bill from key Senate leaders.