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NAMI Kentucky shedding spotlight on mental health following death of Naomi Judd

The sudden death of country music star Naomi Judd has shed a huge spotlight on the topic of mental health. Judd had a long bout with the disease.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The sudden death of country music star Naomi Judd has shed a huge spotlight on the topic of mental health. Judd had a long bout with the disease.

But help, through new legislation, is on the way for those in Kentucky suffering from mental illness.

“It’s certainly good news that both Republicans and Democrats are looking at it through the same lens and approaching it from a bipartisan perspective to try to do something,” said TJ Litafik, lobbyist with the National Alliance of Mental Illness of Kentucky.

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During this past legislative session in Frankfort, Republicans and Democrats found common ground on the issue of mental health.

“We passed the severe mental illness waiver that will allow people to have housing,” said Litafik. “We passed a ban on the death penalty for people with severe mental illness, we excused absences in schools.”

But Litafik said there’s more work to be done.

“Every state in America, most certainly here in the commonwealth of Kentucky, we need to fund the 988 hotline,” Litafik said.

When it becomes active nationwide this summer, 988 can be used by someone that needs to speak to a trained mental health counselor. Litafik said the past two years brought mental health into the headlines.

“It’s very bad and quite frankly it’s been exacerbated by the pandemic,” Litafik said.

Judd was one of 40 million Americans who suffer from some form of mental illness. Litafik believes her story can possibly help others going through the same thing.

“If her story can shine a light on the importance of this and can help other people achieve a different and better end than she did, then yes it can become a positive,” Litafik said.

Mental Health America ranks Kentucky as the 19th best state in the nation when it comes to access to care. If you need someone to talk to, a trained counselor is a phone call away. You can call 1-800-662-HELP.

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