Gov. Andy Beshear signs bills related to mental health in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – On Wednesday afternoon, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed bills 127 and 562 into law.

The two bills both pertained to the issue that is mental health in the state.

Bill 127, also known as Tim’s Law, expands access to assisted outpatient treatment, creating a three-way partnership between the courts, the health care system, and the people of Kentucky, allowing the courts to order outpatient care for individuals with severe mental illness .

This new law expands this access in three ways:

  1. Allowing for expanded access to those who would benefit from outpatient treatment.
  2. Requiring a more thorough evaluation of individuals who may receive court-ordered treatment.
  3. Helping cover additional treatment costs necessary to ensure successful re-entry and participation in the community.

“Providing care to individuals with severe mental illness is crucial to the health and success of the commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “This law gives our people more options to get treatment and to keep them out of institutions. This has a positive impact on the patients, their families, the courts and the community at large.”

Bill 562 targets mental health specifically for first responders.

The new law allows first responders to take up to 48 hours of leave after responding to a critical accident with no repercussions.

A critical accident can span anywhere from a car crash to the death of a colleague.

“This legislation allows first responders to have time to seek mental health care after a traumatizing incident at work. This helps the first responder, their family and the community they serve take the time they need to recover,” Beshear said. “It also protects the first responders’ employment by allowing them to take the time they need for their mental health without fear of losing their job.”

If there was one overarching theme for today, it would be letting people who suffer from mental illness that they’re supported.

“So by doing this, we are becoming a much more compassionate state, supporter of bill 127 District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Baker said. “This is a win for Kentucky and for our seriously mentally ill population.”

“I am looking forward to making sure that we expand this statewide, to get the funding in there so that we can help more people out” said bill 127 cosponsor Rep. Ken Fleming. “This only affects less than 2% of the people, but those 2% are our loved ones and we need to support them as much as possible.”

“This law dually recognizes the importance of protecting the mental health of our first responders, while strengthening our support for those who have dedicated lives to keeping us and our communities safe,” sponsor of bill 562 Rep. Ashley Takett Laferty said.

“A firefighter is more likely to die from suicide, then on scene or an accident happening, and that really worried me,” said Captain and Chaplain for the Middle Creek Volunteer Fire Department Josh Ratliff said. “It worried me about the mental health of our first responders. So I reached out to Ashley and I’m thankful and grateful for everything because as soon as I brought that up to her, she was right on it. She was right on it and I thank god, that we have the people who care enough about our first responders.”

The Governor also made clear that he plans to implement more laws to help those with mental health issues in the coming years.