Medical College of Wisconsin Applauds Mental Health Investments
Milwaukee, Feb. 12, 2020 – The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) applauds Governor Evers’ announcement to include more than $150 million investments into mental health services for Wisconsinites. In particular, the proposal expands mental healthcare telehealth accessibility, addresses substance use disorders and the opioid crisis, and expands the Wisconsin Child Psychiatry Consultation Program (WI CPCP) to cover the entire state of Wisconsin. COVID-19 has accelerated Wisconsin’s mental health crisis, and addressing mental health issues going forward will be more important than ever before.
“Governor Evers’ plan to expand the Wisconsin Child Psychiatry Consultation Program statewide will save lives,” said Jon Lehrmann, MD, MCW’s Chairman and Charles E. Kubly Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. “A statewide CPCP will make ‘just in time’ child psychiatrist and psychologist expertise available to all Wisconsin children through their pediatric medical providers. With the extreme shortage of child psychiatrists today, this solution is a critical and urgently needed step toward supporting and improving the mental health of Wisconsin’s youth.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent Kaiser study ranked Wisconsin 49th of 50 states, meeting just under 21% of the state’s mental health needs, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services found that 68 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have inadequate psychiatrists to meet communities’ needs. These data points do a good job highlighting Wisconsin’s mental health shortages, but they do not fully capture the truly staggering and often tragic impact on human life: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds, people ages 15-24 have the highest rate in Wisconsin of hospitalizations and emergency room admissions for self-inflicted injuries and individuals with severe mental illnesses are more than 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime versus the general population.
The WI CPCP was closely modeled after the Charles E. Kubly Child Psychiatry Access Project, which began in 2013 due to a generous gift from Michael and Billie Kubly. This privately funded program allowed pediatricians from two Milwaukee area clinics to have access to a child psychiatrist for general case consultation, as well as a case manager for community mental health resource information and educational resources for the providers enrolled in the program. The CPCP was enacted into law within the 2013-2015 legislative session as 2013 Wisconsin Act 127, and was authored by Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Jim Steineke.