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Durbin bill expands mental health support after emergencies

24 Feb 2022 10:08 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)


More survivors and first responders could receive mental health support after natural disasters, under a bill spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. [Health News Illinois 2.24.2022]


Now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides short-term mental health and trauma support for survivors and first responders after major disaster declarations. But, the support isn’t available following emergency declarations. Durbin’s bill would change that. 


“Whether it’s tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes or mass violence, victims and first responders should be able to access the same mental health resources in the aftermath of tragedies,” Durbin said in a statement. 


Over the last decade, there have been more than 4,000 emergency declarations in 37 states, according to FEMA’s database.


That includes the tornadoes that struck central and western Illinois in December, leaving six dead and others injured. Because it was declared an emergency, and not a major disaster, the state was unable to seek reimbursement from FEMA for its mental health support program. 


“Overall, this bill recognizes that post-trauma services may also be needed for those affected by smaller-scale disasters,” a statement from Durbin’s office said. 


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