“Mental health is important:" Gov. Walker announces state has invested $30 million into mental health programs

MADISON (WITI) -- Identifying and developing new ways to help people deal with mental illness, and expanding mental health programs already proven successful, were hallmarks of Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-2015 biennial budget, and on Friday, August 8th, Governor Walker announced that Wisconsin is making significant strides in those efforts.

“We have invested $30 million in programs that are innovative, research-based, effective, and in most cases allow communities to determine the best options to meet the needs of its residents while also increasing access to appropriate mental health services in the community, and reducing the need for inpatient services,” Governor Walker said.  “It’s time to remove the stigma associated with mental illness, and help our friends and family members who are affected, get the help they need.”

Details of the investment toward mental health care reform and expansion include:

    Though not among the Governor’s budget initiatives, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) has also developed a regional shared service pilot project that involves six counties in two consortia in western Wisconsin.  These collaborations will ensure access to a core set of mental health and substance abuse services within those areas.  The core set of services promotes community based treatment with a corresponding reduction in inpatient or institutional care.  These pilots will serve as models for other regional consortia across the state.

    “Additionally, today, we now know much more about how trauma can effect a child’s development,” Governor Walker continued.  “That’s why many of the mental health initiatives in the budget concentrated on dealing with behavioral and mental health issues at an early age in an effort to prevent new trauma and more costly interventions later in life.”

      Also included in the budget was funding to increase the capacity of the state forensic treatment units at Mendota Mental Health Institute to meet the growing demand for inpatient evaluation and treatment services and to prevent long waits by patients who are in jail.

      “Mental health is important to the overall health and well-being of everyone in Wisconsin; no matter age or background,” Walker stated.  “By discussing mental health issues publicly and openly and identifying better ways to serve people with mental illness before a crisis situation, we help reduce the stigmas that prevent people from seeking the help they need.”

      For more information about the Governor’s mental health reforms, visit: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aboutdhs/initiatives/budget/initiatives/mh/index.htm