The Kentucky Supreme Court launched the Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health on Thursday, creating a statewide commission focused on substance use, mental health, and intellectual disabilities. The commission will work to improve the practice, quality, and timeliness of judicial response to cases involving these needs.
The commission will include members from organizations with a substantial interest in mental health matters. Legal, legislative, business, and child protection representatives will also serve along with state and local leaders committed to mental health issues affecting Kentuckians. The members of the commission have not yet been named.
Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said the prevalence of mental illness, substance use disorder, and intellectual disabilities in our society is undeniable. “It affects our communities large and small, all across the commonwealth,” Minton said.
Minton introduced Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Debra Hembree Lambert as the commission’s leader. “The commission will be in a position to recommend changes where needed and offer best-practices training to judges, court personnel, law enforcement officers, mental health providers, and community advocates as we implement a recovery-oriented system of care model,” she said. “I’m excited to focus on mental health and substance use cases, but this will also be the first time there will be an all-hands-on-board effort to assess and improve the way the court handles intellectual disabilities. No group this broad and with this many resources has ever come together to tackle all three of these important issues.”
Governor Andy Beshear praised the commission’s formation and stressed the importance of helping those in need. “If the last two-and-a-half years have shown us anything, it’s that suffering and trauma are real,” he said.
The Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health will have its first meeting on Sept. 22, 2022.
The Kentucky League of Cities Board of Directors voted combating substance abuse and the criminal aspects of drug trafficking as a top legislative priority for the 2023 session. Cities also prioritize treatment, rehabilitation, training, and workforce reentry.