Mar 10, 2022 - News

Dallas approves mental health leave for city staff

Illustration of Dallas City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

All Dallas City employees will now have access to mental health leave after the City Council unanimously approved the measure Wednesday.

What happened: State law already requires such leave for peace officers after experiencing a traumatic event on duty.

  • The mayor asked the public safety committee last month to consider expanding mental health leave to include firefighters and paramedics, and another city committee recommended including all city employees.

Why it matters: City manager T.C. Broadnax said there has been an increased demand among city employees for mental health services.

  • The demand for therapy has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, and a recent report from the American Psychological Association found 65% of psychologists didn’t have the capacity to take on new patients, per the Washington Post.

Details: City employees will now be eligible for up to 40 hours of mental health leave if the need is verified by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

  • Firefighters are eligible for up to 60 hours of leave. The leave does not reduce other paid vacation or sick leaves.
  • The measure will cost the city an estimated $705,600 each year.

What they're saying: Before the vote, a council member read a letter from the widow of a firefighter who died by suicide.

  • "I don't want to hear any more letters like that. I don't want people to have that experience," said council member Cara Mendelsohn.

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