Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that Wisconsin will receive nearly $50 million in additional funding from the federal government to address mental health and substance use needs.
The funding, part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in March, will add $24.6 million to mental health services and $22 million to substance use services over the next four years through supplements to Wisconsin’s existing share of the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.
DHS has submitted plans for this funding to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Access to affordable mental and behavioral healthcare was already a critical need for communities across our state, and that need has only become more urgent after the challenges of the last year,” said Governor Tony Evers. “These funds will allow us to serve folks who have been affected by the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders and while closing gaps in access to community mental health services for those who need them the most.”
The plans DHS developed for this funding are the result of consultations with service providers, advocates for people with mental health and substance use challenges, and people in need of help.
“With this support from the federal government, we have an opportunity to bring about significant change and make a difference for Wisconsin residents who are struggling,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.
The plans allow room for county and tribal human services departments to support programs and services that meet the unique needs of their communities. The plans also propose enhancements to substance use prevention activities for all ages; expanded access to NARCAN, the opioid overdose reversal drug; measures to strengthen the system supporting stabilization and other services for people experiencing a mental health or substance use emergency; expanded access to community-based treatment services; and expanded support networks to promote recovery including peer specialists and recovery coaches.
“We know that mental health and substance use issues affect people of every race, every age, every walk of life, all across our state,” added Timberlake. “The need for mental health and substance use services has never been greater, due in part to the stress and trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic along with other events of the past several years. This federal funding will make sure our mental health and substance use services providers can continue to meet the need in communities across Wisconsin today and into the future.”
Implementation efforts will begin once DHS receives approval from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
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