More Bipartisan Support for Regional Mental Health Crisis Centers

An editorial in the Racine Journal  supports legislation that would provide a grant program for mental health crisis restoration centers.  The bills would also allow law officers to take people with acute psychiatric needs to the closest mental health institute in the state.

The authors point out that although access to psychiatric care would be more quickly available in some parts of the state with passage of the bills, residents in the Racine area still would have to travel at least two hours for help.  Therefore, they support the funding of regional crisis centers that would be situated at hospitals.  Click here to read the editorial.  Here is an excerpt.

“So the aspect that has us enthusiastic is the proposed grants for developing regional mental health crisis centers. Given all of the facilities operated by Ascension, Aurora and United Hospital System in the Racine-Kenosha area, we see no reason why one of the area facilities couldn’t obtain a grant and establish itself as a regional center.

We want our law officers on duty within Racine County, not taking 4-plus hours out of a shift to transport someone in need of mental health care to a state-mandated facility. Especially when a facility within 40 miles of the station could be established as a regional destination for such patients.”

The bills (SB 681/AB 815) were introduced by Republican and Democratic legislators and by members from Dane County and the center of the state.  Among its supporters are: the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association; the League of Wisconsin Municipalities; the Dane County government; the Dane County Cities and Villages Association, and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

See “Bipartisan Support for Better Access to Mental Health Institutes” on this blog for background on the legislation.

 

Bipartisan Support for Better Access to Mental Health Institutes

A bipartisan group of legislators is proposing a solution to problems posed by the state’s decision in 2014 to limit access to Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison to criminal cases.  As a result of that decision, two police officers must transport a person in a psychotic or seriously disturbed state to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute near Oshkosh.

The trip from Madison takes two hours each way.  It is a frightening and damaging trip for the person locked in a police car and a costly one for city and county governments.

From 2014 to 2016, transports to Winnebago from Dane County cost more than $330,000, including nearly $151,000 for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and nearly $61,000 for the Madison Police Department, according to the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association.

The bill would allow law enforcement to take individuals to be detained for “emergency detention or involuntary commitment” to the most convenient mental health institute.  It has bipartisan support because counties and individuals throughout the state have suffered as a result of the state’s 2014 ruling.

The bill also proposes a program that would provide grants for hospitals for regional mental health crisis centers.   The grants would be funded in the 2019-21 legislative session.

Click here to read the proposed legislation.

David Wahlberg reports on the history of the problem and reaction by local officials in “Bill would restore mental health crisis detentions at Mendota.”

In “Crisis Cops,” Abigail Becker offers insights from the police about the Mendota restrictions.