TEXAS VIEW: Mental health program for Texas cops goes statewide

THE POINT: The Blue Chip program can get officers the help they need.

Law enforcement officers across the United States are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s a reality that we must work to change. A newly expanded mental health program can improve the picture in Texas.

The Texas Blue Chip Program allows law enforcement officers to redeem specially designed poker chips for free, confidential counseling or mental health services. The program originated in North Texas and is being expanded statewide by the Dallas-based Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and its partners.

Officers can use a physical or virtual chip to find a participating care provider without going through insurance or officer wellness programs. Anonymity is important. Some officers may not seek help if others can find out about it.

If participants are near a brick-and-mortar care provider, they can go in person, but telehealth services are available also, said Meadows senior vice president B.J. Wagner. That’s particularly important in rural parts of Texas, where there might not be a provider with the right experience.

The Dallas Morning News