WASHINGTON, DC - Congessman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-06) reintroduced the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act during Mental Health Awareness Month. This critical bipartisan legislation aims to provide essential mental health resources to our nation’s first responders and health care providers who are at an elevated risk of suicide compared to other professions.

“Our nation’s emergency medical responders and firefighters are heroes in our communities who put their own safety on the line every day to keep us safe, and they deserve our utmost support and adequate access to mental health resources,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “The bipartisan HERO Act will prioritize the mental health and well-being of our first responders on the frontlines, and I thank Representative Bera for partnering with me on this bipartisan effort.”

"Our firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel courageously risk their lives every day to safeguard our families and communities," said Congessman Bera. "It is unacceptable that many of our first responders lack access to vital support services, leading to compromised mental well-being, excessive stress, and, tragically, even suicide. The HERO Act is designed to address this pressing issue by ensuring our first responders and health care providers have comprehensive access to necessary mental health resources, including expanded counseling options, and peer-to-peer best practices to mitigate the risks of suicide. Although the HERO Act passed the House of Representatives in previous Congresses, it is past time that we see this bill through to the finish line and have it signed into law. We owe it to our first responders to provide them with the assistance they rightfully deserve."

“Fire fighters and emergency medical workers confront danger and trauma on every call. The nature of what we do – coupled with the personal challenges everyone faces – makes fire and EMS professionals more susceptible to behavioral health issues like PTSD. It is critical that the right resources and tools are in place to support our nation’s fire fighters facing these job-related hazards. The IAFF is grateful to Reps. Bera and Fitzpatrick for helping tackle fire fighter behavioral health, and we urge Congress to quickly pass the HERO Act,” said General President Edward Kelly, International Association of Fire Fighters.

First responders face an elevated risk of suicide compared to other professions, with more first responders dying by suicide than in the line of duty. The HERO Act addresses this urgent issue by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report annually to Congress on first responder suicide rates. This report will identify risk factors, possible interventions, and recommended interventions for further study.

Additionally, the HERO Act requires HHS to develop and distribute best practices for the prevention and treatment of posttraumatic stress among first responders. To further support their mental well-being, the legislation establishes two grants programs—one for first responders and one for health care workers—to provide training for peer counselors.