Connecticut shooting renews debate about mental health in KY - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Connecticut shooting renews debate about mental health in KY

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- If you listen to John Censbach play piano, you'll understand why he's pursuing a master's degree in music. What you won't understand, is how such a talent would've landed in jail and attempted suicide several times.

But he did.

That was before he came to Bridgehaven, a Louisville outpatient facility that serves around 500 people each year.

"It's just a miracle, it's made all the difference in my life here," Censbach said during an interview with WDRB News Tuesday. "I have PTSD from childhood abuse and I have a chemical imbalance called bipolar disease.

"People are very uncomfortable and squeamish when issues like mental health come up - almost like out of sight out of mind," Censbach said.

Kentucky ranks towards the bottom among states nationally for funding for mental health services. The deadly shooting last week in Newtown, Connecticut has renewed debate about gun control and funding for the mental health related topics.

Censbach sees the Connecticut shooting suspect Adam Lanza as a missed opportunity for someone to find help. He too almost missed that opportunity. Censbach says his downward spiral began when he lost his wife of 17 years.

"I sunk into a world of deep deep depression after her passing," Censbach said.

Now, after more than a year in treatment, Censbach says he has friends, works in the kitchen cooking at Bridgehaven, is a regular at church where he plays the organ and is pursuing a master's degree at Indiana University Southeast.

Ramona Johnson, CEO and President of Bridgehaven, said Censbach is a testament to what mental health services can do. Johnson says people who need help with mental illness are often afraid to seek it.

"People are afraid to get help because they are afraid that they'll lose their job, their spouse will divorce them," she said. "Kentucky ranks among the bottom of per capita funding for mental health services - so I would have to say no we are not prepared - and our funding is not adequate."

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear told WDRB News Tuesday that he hopes funding for mental health services will increase in the next budget cycle.

"Certainly as we come out of this recession, mental health is one of the areas that needs to be supported more than it is now," Beshear said.

Censbach says he gets more help from attending therapy groups than the medications he takes to combat depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Johnson said she worries about the change over next year to managed care with Medicaid. She fears it will lead to a reduction in services for the mentally ill.


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