Mental health first-aid training bill advances to Senate

House Health and Family Services Committee Chair Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill, presenting House Bill 153 for a vote in the chamber. (LRC eNews)
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - On Thursday a mental health first aid training bill advanced to the Senate after passing the House 93-0.

House Bill 153 sponsor and House Health and Family Services Committee Chair, Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill, said the bill would allow Kentuckians to "diffuse a crisis early" by offering evidence-based mental health training to use when they encounter someone in a crisis.

"The Mental Health First Aid Act will put this evidence-based training program in the hands of educators, law enforcement, first responders, military personnel, our faith leaders—really anyone who interacts with the general public and anyone at risk," said Moser.

Moser says mental health first aid training programs are already in pockets of the state. House Bill 153 would take training statewide as Kentucky battles "significant mental health issues" including substance abuse disorder and suicide.

Bill Cosponsor Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville says her experience with a similar program through Jefferson County Public Schools made a lasting impression on her.

"It was a very powerful thing for me to do," said Bojanowski. "It gave me a lot of thoughts to bring back into the classroom because I know there are so many children with mental health issues we deal with."

Training for costs associated with the statewide program would be covered by grants paid for with public and private appropriations drawn from a training fund administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Moser says all the money in the fund would be reserved for the program.

"Any money in this trust fund would be used specifically for this training program or suicide prevention programs," said Moser.