NewsCovering Kentucky


Kentucky launches judicial commission on mental health

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 10:55:25-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Supreme Court has launched a commission aimed at improving the judicial system's approach to cases involving mental health, substance use, and intellectual disabilities.

The new Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health will work to improve the practice, quality, and timeliness of the judicial response to cases involving those needs.

“The prevalence of mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual disabilities in our society is undeniable,” Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said Thursday.

“For courts and our justice system, this prevalence has a disproportionate impact as the justice system has become the default system for addressing the needs of those with behavioral and mental health issues," he added. "And our state prisons and county jails are, without question, the largest providers of mental health services in this state.”

Supreme Court Justice Debra Hembree Lambert will chair the commission. Lambert is a certified suicide prevention trainer and a former Drug Court judge.

Gov. Andy Beshear spoke at the news conference Thursday to show his support for the work of the commission.

“We have come so far in recognizing that health care is a basic human right, but we still have a long way to go to make sure that mental health is treated as physical health, that the services are there and the stigma is gone,” he said.

The commission membership will be composed of representatives from the judicial and legal communities; the juvenile, criminal and child protection systems; the legislature; the business community; organizations with a substantial interest in mental health matters; and other state and local leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to mental health issues affecting Kentuckians.

The commission will meet for the first time September 22 and the list of members will be announced once it is final.

Watch the recorded news conference here. You can find the Supreme Court order establishing the commission here.