Recommendations from the Mental Health Taskforce

Recently, the Speaker’s Task Force on Mental Health published a report containing their recommendations to improve Wisconsin’s mental health services and laws. The bipartisan Task Force chaired by Rep. Severson, brought together legislators, specialists, law enforcement officers, and mental health care providers to develop the recommendations.

The report recommendations include:

Hospital Diversion, Emergency Detention, and Civil Commitment

  • Provide grants for training crisis intervention teams and mobile crisis teams for rural areas, who specialize in responding to individuals with mental health issues who are acting out in the community.
  • Provide matching funds to counties to enter contracts with peer-run organizations for peer-run respite services
  • Commission a study to determine how health care providers can collaborate with certified peer specialists.
  • SB 127 will modify the 24-hour emergency detention rule for Milwaukee County.
  • Request for clarification from the Attorney General regarding psychiatric emergency detentions.
  • Expand authority, beyond just law enforcement officers, to initiate emergency detention to interested parties and initiate a pilot program in Milwaukee County that would allow designated health professionals to initiate emergency detention.

Mental Health Care and Treatment for Minors

  • Support a program for a pediatric telephone consultation line connecting primary care physicians to consult with psychiatrists.
  • Allow mental health services to children in schools without requiring clinic branch officer certification for the school setting as well as developing a payment mechanism with DHS for the services.
  • SB 126 would modify statutes governing inpatient mental health treatment of minors.

Mental Health Assistance in the Corrections System

  • Expand the funding of the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program to include offenders with mental health and substance abuse issues.
  • SB 125 will streamline the medical assistance application process for released offenders by instituting a pilot program in select counties.

Medical Assistance

  • Increase access to mental health therapy by reducing current prior authorization requirements.
  • Allow reimbursement of Wisconsin-liscensed physicians providing medical assistance via telehealthcare for outpatient support.
  • Harmonize Wisconsin Law with federal law to offer broader disclosure of medical treatment among mental health care providers to increase care coordination.
  • Implementation of Primary Care and Psychiatry Shortage Grant Program, a tuition assistance program for medical students who enter underserved medical areas in Wisconsin.
  • Determine the certification alignment with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care with Wisconsin law for outpatient mental health clinics.

Mental Health Services provided by Counties

  • SB 128 on county community program boards to also include a law enforcement officer, hospital representative, or person who has received services for mental illness.
  • DHS to report to the Legislature on findings of regional pilots for mental health and substance abuse services by January 1, 2015.
  • Request a Legislative Council study on Iowa’s transition from a county-based to regional mental health system.
  • Enact rules that requires counties to report to DHS which mental health services they provide

Individual Placement and Support

  • Provide funding for county Individual Placement and Support programs which offer supported employment opportunities for individuals with mental illness.

Reduction of Stigma

  • Provide funding for stigma reduction plan through Wisconsin’s Initiative for Stigma Elimination (WISE).

Rep. Severson, the task force chair, says the report recommendations will put forward as many as 10 to 15 bills which will be introduced on the Assembly floor in November.

This post was authored by Rebecca Ballweg, an intern at the Hamilton Consulting Group.