Wed February 6, 2013
$29M Increase For Mental Health In Gov's Budget
Law enforcement agencies and child health advocates are praising Governor Scott Walker's announcement that his budget proposal includes almost $29 million in increased spending on mental health care services.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Governor announced plans to increase funding in six mental health care programs. The largest chunk, $12.5 million, will go to expanding the number of forensic beds at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. Governor Walker says the decision to boost mental health care funding came after talks with county mental health care workers and school psychiatrists. “The more access that families have to these sorts of services, the less pressure it puts on the school system and in the worst case scenario the criminal justice and law enforcement system.”
The increase in beds at Mendota is good news for county jail officials according to Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. He says it will take pressure off the county jail and local hospitals which often house and treat people who are court ordered to be held and teated for mental health issues. “In Dane County alone, 40 percent of our inmate population suffers from chronic mental illness. This would allow us to properly house them in a facility that is equipped with the expert medical staff that can provide the medical care for those that suffer from mental illness.”
The director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families also praised the governor's plan to increase funding for juvenile mental health care programs at the county level and the creation of a new office of Children's Mental Health.