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Moser Proposes Mental Health First Aid Training Program

State Rep. Kim Moser (R-Taylor Mill) pre-filed legislation on Monday that would create the Kentucky Mental Health First Aid Training Program.

Moser and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky argue that the program would enable local officials and community members to receive training to address the needs of someone experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis.

"Our educators, first responders, law enforcement, and community members are often at a disadvantage when it comes to having the appropriate training to properly deal with someone experiencing a mental health crisis," Moser said. "By creating the Kentucky Mental Health First Aid Training Program, we are offering members of our communities an additional, cost-effective resource to learn how to best address the immediate needs of those dealing with mental health crisis or substance use disorder in a safe and effective way. Through continued training, we will ensure that someone in a crisis situation can gets the help and care they really need."

The training would equip individuals with the ability to identify and assist those who may have a mental illness or substance use disorder, or who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, a news release said. Upon completion of the training, individuals would be able to recognize and take appropriate action to safely intervene in a mental health or substance use crisis. 

Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, praised the proposed legislation.

"Many caring individuals want to help someone experiencing this kind of crisis, but they don't know what to do," Chandler said. "The issue is particularly acute in many rural areas, where professional help is often harder to find. This program will provide the training to help people recognize the signs of mental health distress or substance abuse, the skills to provide some immediate assistance, and an understanding of the professional and self-help resources that they can share with the person who is struggling. We think the program can be especially helpful in reducing the stigma around mental illness and substance abuse in areas hardest hit by the opioid and drug epidemic, and in preventing the higher levels of care that are often needed absent early intervention."

The program would be administered through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and would be set up to receive state or federal appropriations, grant awards, and private donations.

The pre-filed legislation could be considered during the 2020 legislative session, which will convene on January 7.

-Staff report

Photo: Kim Moser (provided)

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