Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Time to talk about mental health: May is Mental Health Month

CONTACT: Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

Governor Walker’s mental health reforms have enhanced services and improved care

MADISON – It is time to change the conversation about mental health and recognize family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers may be suffering emotionally but are reluctant to ask for help. Today is the first day of May Mental Health Month and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) wants anyone who may be experiencing a mental health concern to know that support is available. The sooner these concerns are caught and treated, the better the results.

“Like physical health, a person’s mental health may be good or it may need attention,” said DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades. “A mental illness is not a sign of personal weakness or a statement on a person’s character. I am proud of the strides the state has made to help people have greater access to the mental health programs they need.”

DHS oversees a wide range of mental health services, including inpatient hospitalization and community-based, outpatient care, backed by supportive programs to help individuals live and work independently. Governor Walker’s $30 million investment in the state’s mental health care system in the 2013-2015 biennial budget and action by the Speaker’s Task Force on Mental Health provided resources to improve and expand these services, as well as new supports to people living with mental illness.

-The Office of Children’s Mental Health is working to better address and coordinate services to children with mental health needs.
-Treatment options for children have been strengthened, with more access to in-home counseling and the expansion of Coordinated Services Teams (CST) Initiatives. CST Initiatives now are operating in 67 counties and all tribal nations, up from 44 total CST Initiatives in 2011. CST Initiatives develop a comprehensive, individualized system of care for children with complex behavioral health needs.
Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) is a program for people of all ages who need ongoing services beyond occasional outpatient care, but less than the services provided in a hospital setting. In the ten months since additional state money became available to counties that adopted a regional service delivery model, the number of counties offering or intending to offer CCS has more than doubled from 31 to 63. One tribal nation also is now offering CCS. To date, DHS has certified 16 regions to implement CCS. Seven other regions are undergoing DHS review, but are expected to begin serving people soon. By the end of the year, CCS will be available to 95 percent of the state’s population.
-Three organizations have been selected to operate Peer Run Respites, places that offer a supportive environment during times of increased stress or difficulty. Stays are short-term, typically one to five days. Iris Place in Appleton opened last month. Sites in Madison and Menomonie are in the planning stages.
-Grants have been awarded to train law enforcement and correctional officers to assist individuals experiencing a mental health emergency and to establish mobile teams to respond to individuals having a crisis and help keep these individuals stable and out of inpatient treatment programs.

A 2014 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration shows that eighteen percent of Wisconsin adults will have a mental health concern in any given year. About four percent of Wisconsin adults experience a serious mental illness, a condition that disrupts daily living, such as going to work.

These behaviors and feelings may be an early indication of a mental health condition:

-Eating or sleeping too much or too little
-Avoiding people and usual activities
-Having low or no energy
-Feeling numb or like nothing matters
-Feeling helpless or hopeless
-Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
-Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
-Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
-DHS and its partners agree that getting screened by a health care provider is the first step in the journey toward recovery.

Follow DHS on Twitter (link is external) for more information on May Mental Health Month.