A House Republican from Taylor Mill has pre-filed a bill that would create a statewide Mental Health First Aid Training Program.
State Rep. Kim Moser says the idea is to increase knowledge about the nature of depression and substance abuse disorders, reduce stigma and empower communities to properly help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
"This is really putting a tool in the hands of everyday people and folks who are working with those individuals who are really most at risk,” she states.
The free training program would be available to all individuals, but is geared toward educators, first responders and law enforcement.
The bill will be considered during the legislative session that starts early next year.
Moser says the program would be run by the state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and paid for through a trust fund.
"And the trust fund will specifically fund Mental Health America or a similar evidence-based training program and suicide prevention program,” Moser explains. “The trust is going to be set up so that it can accept funds from state and federal allocations, but also grants and private donations."
Former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, maintains the legislation will save lives.
"We don't understand mental health as well as we should,” he states. “We don't recognize it sometimes when we see mental health problems.
“We have a particular problem in underserved rural areas. So you don't have very many mental health professionals in those areas, so we need to inform and educate other people, particularly teachers in the schools."
According to the United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings, 24% of Kentucky adults say they have been told they have a form of depression, and the state ranks 49th in the country for the number of residents who report experiencing frequent mental distress.