KENTUCKY — On this week's edition of In Focus Kentucky, we’re taking a look at mental health in the Commonwealth and sharing how those in our state are fighting the stigma, while also providing education to support people with mental illness and their families.

Following the 2021 General Assembly legislative session, House Bill 44 was signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear in March of this year.

This legislation now allocates funding for full-time and volunteer firefighters experiencing PTSD or post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) to receive proper care from a licensed mental health professional.

The new law also allows firefighters to undergo crisis intervention training (CIT), said Banta, who is a primary sponsor of the bill.

CIT teaches law enforcement and firefighters how to effectively respond to persons suffering from a mental health or substance abuse crisis.

In return, first responders reduce the risk of injury to themselves, other first responders, and citizens.

The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Kim Banta (R) of Boone and Kenton County.

"Well, it began with a meeting with firefighters after Northern Kentucky lost two firefighters to suicide. And when I met with firefighters, I found out that they did not have access to crisis treatment, and things like that. They want to be treated by other people who understand what they've gone through, so firefighters would like to be treated by another firefighter, so I pitched it to their President and I said how about if we do a bill, where you guys get trained in critical response training, and then you can use it and be certified and help each other and they liked it, So we took it and we ran with it," explains Rep. Banta