Legislature focuses on several ways to promote mental health

CAPITOL CONNECTION
Joe Leibham  9th Senatorial District

On Friday, March 21, I had the privilege of joining over 300 Sheboygan County citizens to have a community conversation about mental health. The daylong program was educational and inspirational as we discussed ways in which all of us as individuals and as a community can help those struggling with mental health issues.

The treatment of mental health has been a major focus of the state legislature over the past two years, and I am proud to provide information on the following initiatives that I supported and have been approved:

2013-15 Budget Bill- The current state budget provides almost $30 million over the biennium to fund expanded mental health services across the state through a variety of initiatives. $16.7 of this will go to an expansion of the Comprehensive Community Services program which is designed to provide individualized, community-based mental health services to children and adults. These services include psychiatric medication, mental health counseling, and other services. This additional funding will be provided once the legislature approves the framework of the expanded program as proposed by the Department of Health Services (DHS).

Additionally, the budget creates an Office of Children’s Mental Health to ensure that children’s mental health needs are being given direct attention. Finally, the bill provides $1.3 million for expanded coverage of in-home counseling services and an additional $1.3 million for peer-run respite centers. Peer-run respite centers allow individuals experiencing a crisis situation to seek help from other individuals who have had the same kinds of experiences in the past.

Assembly Bill (AB) 450 - This bill provides additional funding to 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 450 has now been signed into law as Act 126. https://docs.legis.wisconsin. gov/2013/proposals/ab450

AB 452 - This bill provides funding to establish a child psychiatry consultation program. This program, administered by DHS, will 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 452 has been signed into law as Act 452. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/ab452

AB 454 - This proposal creates 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 454 has been signed into law as Act 128. https://docs. legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/ab454

AB 455 - This bill supports 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, peer-run 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 455 has been signed into law as Act 129. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/ ab455

AB 459 - This bill provides 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 459 has been signed into law as Act 131. https://docs.legis.wisconsin. gov/2013/proposals/ab459

AB 460 - This bill provides 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. AB 460 has been signed into law as Act 132. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/ ab460

AB 668 – This bill invests $1.5 million annually in additional money in the TAD program. As discussed above, the TAD program is an alternative to incarceration targeted towards helping individuals charged with a crime who are suffering from substance abuse. The budget invested an additional $1 million per year in this program, and AB 668 provides further money to support this successful initiative. AB 668 has passed the legislature and is currently being considered by Governor Scott Walker. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/ ab668

Again, I was pleased to support these initiatives and appreciate the efforts of local residents to educate me on the value of these important efforts.


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