This week, the Wisconsin Assembly took bold steps to improve Wisconsin’s mental health system to support a better quality of life for people living with mental illness. The Speaker’s Task Force on Mental Health took a lead role in developing and advancing proposals which will expand community based mental health services. Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) thanks Speaker Robin Vos, Task Force Chair Erik Severson, and Vice Chair Sandy Pasch for their leadership and dedication to increasing access to recovery based community services.
The Assembly’s strategic investments enlarge on Governor Walker’s historic expansion of community based mental health services in the biennial budget. They will help move Wisconsin forward on the path away from unnecessary reliance on institutional models of care and towards services that can help people with mental illness realize their full potential as individuals and members of their communities. These initiatives hold the promise of increasing access to community-based services, promoting consumer choice, and decreasing reliance on costly institutional care:
- Peer run respites: a crisis alternative that provides non-medical, holistic, and hopeful support for healing. (Assembly Bill 455)
- Individual Placement and Support (IPS) supported employment: an evidence-based program that helps people living with serious mental illnesses find and sustain competitive employment based on their personal preferences and strengths. (Assembly Bill 459)
- Expanding Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD): programs to serve people living with mental illness, in addition to individuals with substance use issues and dual diagnoses. (Assembly Bill 457)
- A child psychiatry consultation program: to provide primary care providers with expert assistance. (Assembly Bill 452)
- Funding grants to law enforcement agencies: to provide crisis intervention training (CIT) for first responders in order to improve the outcomes of police interactions for people living with mental illness. (Assembly Bill 450)
- Funding grants to rural counties: to create mobile crisis teams which will enhance a county’s ability to have trained mental health professionals respond to crisis situations. (Assembly Bill 460)
- Allows children to receive in-home therapy without having to first show failure to succeed with out-patient therapy. (Assembly Bill 458)
Disability Rights Wisconsin is the federally designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency for individuals with mental illness. DRW is mandated to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness, investigate reports of abuse and neglect in facilities that care for or treat individuals with mental illness, and advocate for individuals with mental illness who reside in the community. DRW thanks the Assembly for their support of people with mental illness and their families and encourages the Senate to approve these proposals to continue building Wisconsin’s long-overdue community-based mental health system. Disability Rights Wisconsin is committed to working alongside the Department of Health Services, consumers, counties, and other stakeholders to implement these initiatives.
Contact: Barbara Beckert, Milwaukee Office Director – 414-773-4646, Ext 15
Kit Kerschensteiner, Managing Attorney – 608-267-0214
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