SOUTH BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – From police officers to EMS and firefighters, our law enforcement officers and first responders are under constant stress that often takes them outside of work. New York State is providing additional funding to a nonprofit organization that provides essential mental health training and seminars.
The state is donating $50,000 to the New York Law Enforcement Assistance Program (NYLEAP), which provides mental health services to first responders across the state, including here in western New York.
“These are cops helping cops, correctional officers helping correctional officers, and so on and so forth,” NYLEAP President Jim Banish said.
NYLEAP is a non-profit organization that provides free post-crisis seminars and peer-to-peer mental health training for law enforcement officers, firefighters and other law enforcement personnel. Based on similar programs run by the FBI, it teaches coping skills, trauma eddo, and promotes resilience and healing. Government funding is vital to this volunteer organization.
“On the first day, you’re basically just seeing the shell of a person walking in and they have a very hard time talking. On the third day on Wednesday, we restored a little bit of humanity,” Banish added. “This is a grassroots program developed by civil servants for civil servants, so we don’t have earmarked funding yet.”
Senator Tim Kennedy announced that $50,000 in state funds will be donated to the nonprofit to hold more training and seminars. Senator Kennedy says he will fight for more money for these important meetings in the next fiscal cycle.
“This $50,000 is just a first step toward what we hope will be a long-term agreement,” Senator Kennedy continued.
Senator Kennedy says five officers have died by suicide in the 14220 ZIP code, which includes South Buffalo, in the past two years.
“We suffered a lot here last year too. Tops, we had a snow storm, officers were shooting,” said Joe Gramaglia, Buffalo Police Commissioner.
Gramaglia says his department has expanded mental health resources and expanded the peer-to-peer program within his department. He hopes these additional resources will help break the stigma.
“We are tough people. We don’t like to talk about our problems. It’s a sign of weakness – and it’s not. You have to change that,” said Gramaglia. “Go get well. Get sane and make sure you stick with it. We need to break that stigma.”
To donate to NYLEAP, click Here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, resources are available to help.
Crisis Services has a 24-hour helpline at (716) 834-3131.