top of page

WI: $500M to address 'burgeoning crisis' surrounding "mental/behavioral health"

Jan 24, 2023, Wis Politics: Gov. Evers: State of mental health “burgeoning crisis”
Gov. Tony Evers tonight, during his 2023 State of the State address, declared 2023 the Year of Mental Health, calling mental and behavioral health a “burgeoning crisis” affecting the state and Wisconsin’s kids, families, and workforce. Gov. Evers also announced his 2023-25 executive budget will include approximately $500 million to expand access to mental and behavioral health services across Wisconsin.

In his 2023 State of the State address delivered tonight, Gov. Evers discussed the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on mental and behavioral health, especially on Wisconsin’s kids, calling on the Legislature to take the state’s mental and behavioral health crisis seriously: …“Kids in crisis are often distracted or disengaged in class, might not be able to finish their homework, and won’t be able to focus on their studies at home or at school. Improving student mental health can also improve student learning outcomes and school attendance, while reducing bullying, risky behaviors, violence, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and substance misuse. “So, over the last year, we doubled our investment in our “Get Kids Ahead” initiative—investing $30 million of our federal pandemic relief funds to provide every Wisconsin public school district with new resources to expand school-based mental health services. Tonight, I’m announcing we’re going to make “Get Kids Ahead” a permanent state program, and we’re investing more than $270 million to ensure every student has access to mental health services. “The last few years have affected our kids’ mental and behavioral health—and adults’ mental health, too. We’ve seen record-high opioid-related overdose deaths, and Wisconsin’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline received 6,000 calls just in the first month of its launch this past July. “The state of mental health in Wisconsin is a quiet, burgeoning crisis that I believe will have catastrophic consequences for generations if we don’t treat it with the urgency it requires. Mental and behavioral health is as much a health issue as it is an economic one: it affects kids in the classroom; it affects workers being able to join and stay in our workforce; it affects whether folks are able to stay in safe housing or have economic security; it affects folks’ ability to take care of and provide for their family and loved ones. “So, tonight, I’m declaring 2023 the Year of Mental Health. “Together with our “Get Kids Ahead” initiative investment, we’ll be making an overall investment of about $500 million to expand access to mental and behavioral health services for folks across our state. “A 2022 report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute indicated there are 440 people for each mental health provider in Wisconsin. And even before the pandemic, a 2019 report from the Institute indicated that 55 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have significant shortages of psychiatrists. So, we’re also going to invest in making sure we have adequate, available mental health professionals who can provide the treatment Wisconsinites need across our state. “We’re going to invest in developing robust prevention strategies to reduce suicide, self-harm, and other mental and behavioral health-related injuries. And that includes state resources to support 988, the new Suicide & Crisis Lifeline—which went live in 2022 thanks to the hard work of our senator, Senator Tammy Baldwin—as well as increased support for peer-run and community-based services across the state… According to the Office of Children’s Mental Health’s 2022 Annual Report, about one-third of kids in Wisconsin experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness nearly every day—a 10-percent increase over the last decade. The report also states that more than half of Wisconsin youth report anxiety, and nearly a quarter report self-harm. Regarding how Wisconsin youth are connecting to needed mental healthcare, the report further states that, of the kids who receive treatment for mental health, 75 percent of the time that care is received at school, underscoring the importance of ensuring schools have adequate resources to meet the growing mental health needs of students across the state…. A full list of Gov. Evers’ $500 million in mental and behavioral investments by state agency is provided below.

Department of Health Services

Crisis Urgent Care & Observation Center Grant Program

Provide $64,700 general purpose revenue (GPR) in fiscal year 2024 (FY24) and $10,038,500 GPR in fiscal year 2025 (FY25) for grants to establish up to two crisis urgent care and observation centers to offer a variety of behavioral health services, accept emergency detention cases, conduct medical clearances, and support up to 15 crisis stabilization beds.

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility Grant Program

Provide $1,790,000 GPR in FY25 for grants to establish a 25-bed psychiatric residential treatment facility to serve children and youths with intensive behavioral health needs. Create a new Medicaid benefit for psychiatric residential treatment facilities.

Youth Crisis Stabilization Facilities Funding

Provide $996,400 GPR in annual, ongoing state support for the three Youth Crisis Stabilization Facilities. …

Medicaid Autism Treatment Services Rate Increase

Provide $4,075,200 all funds (AF) in FY24 and $8,150,400 AF in FY25 for a Medicaid rate increase for certain autism treatment services. …


bottom of page