Call to Action
As the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee begins public hearings in advance of its review of the Governor’s 2013-2015 proposed state budget it is critical that mental health consumers, family members, advocates, providers and other stakeholders make their voices heard. We need to make sure that legislators know that the mental health community supports the Governor’s $29 million mental health initiative and we need to address other mental health related items in the Governor’s budget.
Contact members of the Joint Finance Committee and your legislators to provide your input at this critical stage of the budget process.
Consider providing input at one of the Joint Finance Committee hearings. Hearing information can be found at the website above.
See the Call to Action and related documents below for additional information.
Watch MHA’s Director of Public Policy, Shel Gross, discuss the Governor’s mental health proposals on a special Wisconsin Eye broadcast along with Rep. Sandy Pasch, Barbara Beckert from Disability Rights Wisconsin and Hugh Davis, from Wisconsin Family Ties. Click here >>
Investing in Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker Announces Mental Health Funding in Upcoming Budget
Today, Governor Scott 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. 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. Read the Press Release >>
New Speaker's Task Force on Mental Health
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Vos announced the creation of the Speaker's task Force on mental health today. Reps Vos, Severson, and Pasch said they are hoping to break the stigma associated with mental illness.Click here to read the Press Release >> Click here to read TheJournalTimes.com news article >>
Mental Health America of Wisconsin “Ecstatic” About Governor’s Mental Health Proposals
(Madison, Feb. 6, 2013) Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA) wishes to express its deep appreciation to Governor Walker for the mental health proposals he announced today. “To say that we, and other mental health advocates, are ecstatic may be an understatement,” said Shel Gross, Director of Public Policy. “The items the Governor included in his proposal represent some of the top priorities we have identified for the budget, and some have been top priorities for many, many years.” Read the Press Release for details >>
Take Action to Enhance Community-Based Mental Health Service
Wisconsin's mental health system has been undervalued and under-resourced. Only a small percentage of adults and youths who could benefit from community mental health services receive them. Limited access to services contributes to many people with mental health needs experiencing very negative outcomes with significant personal and societal costs, such as poorer health, unemployment, incarceration, homelessness and suicide. Wisconsin has one of the most severe shortages of children’s mental health providers in the nation. Parent satisfaction with outcomes of public mental health services for their adolescent children is the lowest in the county.
There may be a window of opportunity to achieve some movement on these long-standing problems given Governor Walker’s recent statements recognizing the need to improve community-based mental health services. As he prepares his 2013-2015 bienniel budget request please encourage him to take bold steps to back up his words. Take Action:
- Contact Governor Walker and ask him to support increased access to community mental health services and treatment in the 2013 -2015 biennial budget.
- If your legislator is on the Joint Finance Committee, ask them to contact Governor Walker and request that he prioritize funding for mental health in the biennial budget.
For the full action alert, with suggested messages and contact information click here.
Meaningful Consumer Involvement - Nothing About Us Without Us
A lot of the time bad policy can be avoided if the right people are at the table. The disability mantra—nothing about us without us—applies to people with mental illnesses as it does to people with other disabilities.
But what does it mean to include consumers or family members in policy making? Last year United We Stand Wisconsin (UWSW), a statewide mental health consumer organization, developed a consensus statement on meaningful participation. The Wisconsin Council on Mental Health (WCMH) endorsed these principles and forwarded them to each of the state agencies represented on the WCMH. The response has been very encouraging to say the least.
The Department of Health Services has been re-energizing their efforts to engage consumers after filling their vacant Consumer Affairs Liaison position. You can email Faith Boersma if you want to get information about her efforts and how you can become more involved in policy development.
We learned from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation that individuals interested in becoming active on the Rehabilitation Council, which oversee and advises on voc rehab services, can do so upon request. As a result, one of the WCMH members is joining that body.
Today a group of individuals will be meeting with the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Child Welfare Advisory Council. Eloise Anderson, DCF Secretary, sent the invitation in response to the WCMH letter. Addressing the mental health needs of both children and biological family members involved in the child welfare system is of utmost concern if we are to maximize successful family reintegration and to ensure that youth are cannot be returned to their family of origin are able to move toward successful life functioning.
And recently a group of mental health consumers met with staff from the Department of Corrections to explore how consumers could be more involved in both policy and in supporting inmates with mental illnesses. There is a commitment to a follow-up meeting and some tentative understanding about directions for moving forward.
If you’re interested in learning more about UWSW you can join their Google Group at: : http://groups.google.com/group/united-we-stand-wi/topics
2013-2015 Budget Process Begins
We are less than half way through the state’s two-year budget cycle but planning is beginning for the next one, which begins on July 1, 2013.
On May 25th Shel Gross, MHA’s Director of Public Policy, led a delegation of consumers, family members and other advocates who are connected with the Wisconsin Council on Mental Health (WCMH) to meet with Governor Walker’s budget and policy staff. At the meeting the group reviewed preliminary budget priorities developed through the WCMH, which Shel chairs (see link below). The two-hour meeting found the Governor’s staff interested and engaged, seeking to further understand the issues and solutions. The group will follow up with staff at the Department of Health Services (DHS), with whom they have had monthly meetings over most of the past year, as the DHS develops their budget recommendations for the Governor. Meetings with other departments are also in the planning stages.
By working with both the departments and directly with the Governor’s office we hope to be able to identify some areas of common interest that can be moved forward in the 2013-2015 budget. However, the priorities also include a number of policy issues that can be moved forward even as the budget process unfolds. We’ll keep you posted. Read the WCMH 2013-2015 State Budget Priorities >>
Certified Peer Specialists
One of the major transformation in the mental health system has involved the growing role of people with mental illness as providers within the system. Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) are persons who have not only lived the experience of mental illness but also have had formal training in the peer specialist model of mental health supports for adults. Peer specialists are working in all types of mental health settings, from inpatient hospital to crisis services to outpatient settings. MHA employs peer specialists in our Strong Families/Healthy Homes program. To find more information about certified peer specialists check out these websites:
Wisconsin Association of Peer Specialists: This site has been developed to be a resource, advocacy and continuing education tool for all Peer Providers, in Wisconsin and Nationwide, to assist them in their pursuit of the development, education and sustainability of the profession of Peer Provider.
Wisconsin Peer Specialist Employment Initiative: Information on how to become a peer specialist, finding jobs as a peer specialist, quarterly newsletter and more.
Electronic Medical Records
The national movement towards increased use of electronic medical records has significant implications for mental health consumers. As efforts to integrate care across mental health and primary care move forward, the interest in and need to integrate records is not far behind. But given the historical stigma related to mental illness, some mental health consumers have concerns about what information is available to which providers without their written informed consent.
This is not an easy issue. Consumers understand that providers need to know about all the medications they are taking to make sure they don’t prescribe something that will cause an adverse reaction with their current medications. And most consumers like the idea of all their providers working together in an informed way. But many would like to stay in control of this process. So how do we find a balance that works?
Currently in Wisconsin health care providers can share the following information about you from your mental health treatment records without your informed consent:
Name of your provider of services for mental health or alcohol or drug abuse treatment.
Dates you received services.
Medications, allergies, diagnoses, diagnostic test results (e.g., lab tests, EKGs; not psychological testing) and symptoms.
Demographic information (e.g. name, address).
This information can be shared with any provider involved with your care who has a need to know the information. Sharing of any additional information, such as admission or discharge summaries, psychological testing or treatment plans would require a written release of information.
For more information see the attached guidance memo.
For information on the Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network: http://www.wishin.org/
For information for consumer advocates see: http://www.nationalpartnership.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_health_it_advocates
Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations
The Survival Coalition represents about 40 consumer, provider and advocacy organizations addressing the needs and interests of people with disabilities in Wisconsin. Survival Coalition has been on the forefront of the movement to end waiting lists for community care for people with developmental and physical disabilities, an effort that has resulted in the Family Care program. The Survival Coalition budget priorities will be posted here when finalized.
Additionally Survival Coalition drafted a set of principles reflecting the values that should be applied to the decision-making process. Importantly, Survival Coalition stresses the need to look at increasing revenues as well as cutting costs and services. Read the Statement of Principles. While developed for the 2009-2011 budget process these principles remain relevant today.
Mental Health Parity