Walker Budget to Expand Mental Health Funding

Giving a glimpse of what will be in his 2013-2015 Biennial State Budget, Gov. Walker announced a near $30 million investment in state taxpayer funds for mental health programs to enhance and expand services provided by state and local governments to individuals living with mental illness.

“Earlier this year, I met with mental health professionals, advocates, and consumers from across Wisconsin, and they gave me some tremendous insights into the needs of people living with mental health challenges,” said Governor Walker. “Our budget investment will provide additional resources to improve and expand care, as well as give support to those living with mental illness and help individuals, families, and communities in Wisconsin live healthier and more productive lives.”

According to Walker, the initiatives being funded in the budget will build on proven, evidence-based strategies, expand successful programs, and address the most urgent needs identified by patients and families receiving care, providers, and advocates throughout the state. Some of the programs and initiatives funded in the budget include:

  • Comprehensive Community Services (CCS): Expands intensive, targeted community-based care for adults and children with severe mental illness. The CCS program delivers enhanced, individualized services helping reduce hospitalizations, improve primary health outcomes, improve relationships, increase meaningful employment, and improve overall life satisfaction.
  • Office of Children’s Mental Health: Establishes an Office of Children’s Mental Health focused on ensuring program policies and services are best meeting the needs of children throughout the state. It will assist agencies in developing and delivering effective services for children. The Office will coordinate initiatives, monitor program performance, and increase integration of services provided to children across all state agencies.
  • Coordinated Services Team (CST): Expands CST program statewide and funds CST coordinators on a regional basis to integrate and coordinate community-based care for juveniles in multiple systems of care. Coordinated Services Teams provide wraparound models of care for children with behavioral health issues, as well as their families, when the children are involved in two or more systems of care, including mental health, long-term care, juvenile justice, child welfare, substance abuse, and special education systems.
  • Peer-Run Respite Centers: Develops Peer-Run Respite Centers to improve outcomes of individuals in crisis or individuals having difficulty coping with mental illness through services such as peer supports, 24/7 hotlines, wellness activities, respite, and hospital diversion.
  • In-Home Counseling for Children: Provides funding to broadly cover in-home counseling services under the Medicaid program. Expanding coverage will allow earlier interventions, particularly for children and families with less acute conditions, and will make it easier for families to access necessary services, resulting in a reduction of out-of-home placements and improved outcomes for children.
  • Additional Forensic Units at Mendota Health Institute: Provides funding and positions to increase the capacity of the state forensic treatment units to meet the growing demand for inpatient evaluation and treatment services.

In Wisconsin, state and local governments work cooperatively to meet the needs of individuals with mental health needs. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) provides counties with state and federal funding and policy direction, while each county develops its own programs and budget that are tailored to meet the needs of residents.