Ways to enhance mental health services studied

CAPITOL CONNECTION
Joe Leibham  9th Senatorial District

Enhancing mental health services and programs for the citizens of Wisconsin has been a focus of the legislature. A special Task Force on Mental Health held several public input sessions throughout the state where it heard from interested citizens and experts. In October, the Task Force produced a final report recommending legislative action on a number of issues. You can review this detailed report here: http:// legis.wisconsin.gov/documents/ MentalHealthReport.pdf

I have enjoyed meeting with local mental health advocates and have worked to advance and support the following legislative and funding initiatives:

Assembly Bill (AB) 450- This bill will provide additional funding to the Department of Health Services (DHS) to award grants for mental health crisis intervention team (CIT) training for law enforcement agencies and correctional officers. CIT is special training that is designed to ensure that officers are able to effectively respond to incidents involving mentally ill individuals. When I met with the Sheboygan County Mental Health Association, this effort was stressed as a top priority and I was pleased to help advance this important initiative.

AB 452- This bill will provide funding to establish a child psychiatry consultation program. This program, administered by DHS, would consist of mental health professionals who would make themselves centrally available for consultation. Physicians, such as primary care providers, would be able to consult with these professionals either remotely or in person when serving a patient with complex mental health needs. This will allow for greater collaboration and sharing of information with respect to effective mental health treatments.

AB 454- This proposal will create an incentive grant program for doctors and psychiatrists who serve in underserved (primarily rural) areas of the state. The goal is to encourage physicians just beginning their careers to choose to practice in areas of Wisconsin most in need of new physicians.

AB 455- This bill would support peer-run respite centers that individuals can visit when they are experiencing traumatic events or severely stressful situations and are having difficulty coping. Unlike other available options, peerrun respite centers offer these individuals guidance and support from councilors who themselves have gone through mental health/substance abuse treatment programs. This approach offers participants a unique perspective as they seek to cope.

AB 457- This bill, which I was pleased to author with Represen- tative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) will expand services provided under Treatment and Alternatives Diversion (TAD) programs. Currently, the TAD program provides state funding to counties who establish suspended and deferred prosecution programs which provide treatment alternatives to prosecution for individuals who abuse alcohol or other drugs. This bill would expand the TAD program to offer these same opportunities for individuals with a mental illness.

AB 459- This bill will provide funding for DHS to operate a program that will provide grants for individual placement and support (IPS) services for individuals with mental illness. IPS services are offered at various locations throughout the state, and provide a specialized program to help individuals with mental illness find employment. These services are a helpful way to ensure individuals with mental illnesses are still able to contribute positively to their community through a fulfilling job.

AB 460- This bill will provide grants to counties or multi-county regions to establish certified crisis programs that create mental health mobile crisis teams. These teams provide immediate in-person mental health services for individuals who are experiencing a specific mental health crisis in either their homes or the community.

Again, I was pleased to vote in support of each of these proposals that seek to help our fellow citizens who are struggling with mental health concerns. While each calls for new state funding, I can assure you that I supported them knowing that our overall budget continues to be balanced. Due to good fiscal management over the past three years, our state is living within our means, we are reducing the tax burden in our state and we are able to make smart and sustainable investments in good programs that improve the overall quality of life.

~ Free Fishing Weekend – January 18-19, 2014 ~

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages all Wisconsin residents to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend on January 18-19, 2014. Fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species. For more information about the weekend, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Fishing/ AnglerEducation/FreeFishingWeekend.html.

~ Issue Corner – Senate Bill (SB) 432: Prohibition on Tracking the Location of a Cellular Telephone by Law Enforcement Without a Warrant ~

Current law limits certain interceptions of communications and the use of “pen register” or “trap and trace devices” (technology that can provide outgoing and incoming call information). This bill prohibits, with certain exceptions, law enforcement officers from tracking the location of a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device without first obtaining from a court a warrant authorizing the action. This bill also creates a process by which a law enforcement officer may apply to a court for such a warrant.

To view an electronic copy of SB 432, please visit this link: https:// docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/sb432. Furthermore, you can track this proposal as it makes its way through the legislature by signing up for the legislative notification service: https://notify.legis. wisconsin.gov/login?ReturnUrl=%2f.


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