Healthcare providers team up to provide counseling for first responders

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By Liz Gelardi

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Additional counseling services are on the way for public safety employees in Indianapolis. Three Metro Police officers were recently accused of drunk driving and a veteran officer barricaded himself in an apartment with a gun. City officials point to examples like that as they talked about the need for additional counseling resources.

The city is forming a partnership with six local healthcare organizations to provide comprehensive counseling. The services will be in additional to the department's employee assistance program.

"People have a little bit of a hesitancy, I think they worry confidentiality, everything is always confidential but sometimes they worry about it. This being totally separate from public safety maybe people feel a little more comfortable using that," said Nick Ball, Executive Director of the Public Safety Foundation.

Employees will be able to call a hotline where they can talk to a mental health or addiction specialist. The clinician will be able to refer them to the appropriate channel to get additional help. Part of the program includes up to six free counseling sessions from a healthcare provider.

The expanded counseling services will be offered during a six month trial period. The program is expected to begin in about a month.