Crisis intervention app to be piloted in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Rep. Ken Fleming (R, Louisville) plans to introduce a bill next week that would formally establish the Kentucky Mental Health Safety Center within UofL Health.

what you need to know

  • Rep. Ken Fleming plans to introduce a bill related to a new crisis intervention app next week
  • The project is based on a similar initiative in Utah
  • Students, parents and teachers could use the app confidentially
  • Beginning with a smaller pilot, UofL Health Peace Hospital would provide licensed staff to respond to users of the app

The center would host and manage a free, confidential crisis intervention app called SafeKY for students, parents and teachers.

“Helping kids with depression and anxiety is a great way to prevent suicide, but it also has another component,” Fleming said. “Another component is basically examining school safety if you find that kids may be bringing guns or bringing in bullying.”

It is based on an existing app in Utah, SafeUT.

According to an annual report, 96% of Utah’s public and charter school districts are enrolled, and last April officials confiscated a gun at a school after students used the app to notify authorities.

Fleming’s bill would create an advisory board to guide the process and provide a framework for funding the project in the budget.

Beginning with a smaller pilot, UofL Health Peace Hospital would operate the mental health safety center and provide licensed staff to respond to users of the app, said Liz McKune, the hospital’s vice president and chief operations officer.

“We’re going to try this out with a smaller school, a medium-sized school, and a large school district to see what the needs and interests of the students will be in that particular area,” she said. “We plan at this point to start with a small core staff who will be available 24/7 to talk to students.”

The hospital has raised funds to support the project during its first year of implementation, McKune said.

“This is designed as a crisis intervention tool to use in the moment so that we can access children when they have these thoughts or feelings and connect them to services,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis, you are encouraged to call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

For help, just call 988 or text.

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