Mental and behavioral health

Our commitment

At Children's Wisconsin, we are inspired by our vision that Wisconsin kids will be the healthiest in the nation – physically, mentally and socially. That means making sure the growing number of kids with mental and behavioral health concerns get the care they need.

Our expertise on mental health runs wide and deep: We treat thousands of kids with mental and behavioral health challenges every year through programs at our primary care and specialty clinics, through our foster and adoptive services and in schools and communities throughout the state. With more than two million touch points with kids and families every year, we are doing more in more places than you can imagine.

Our mental and behavioral health vision

We envision a future where every child and teenager in Wisconsin will receive the right support for their mental and behavioral health, at the right time, in order to grow up healthy and thriving.

Our priorities

Early detection and prevention

  • Growing and developing more ways to detect problems and help kids sooner, before they become a crisis

Increased access to high-quality mental and behavioral health care

  • Meeting kids and families where they are by bringing mental and behavioral care close to home by providing more services in schools and clinics, and using technology to reach far and wide

Reducing stigma

  • Advocating for legislative and insurance policies that support kids and families in getting the behavioral health care they need when they need it
  • Making conversations about mental health part of every checkup and doctor visit

Our initiatives

We have identified seven initiatives to address these priorities and help build a Wisconsin where every child can achieve optimal mental and behavioral health.

Universal screening for mental health: We currently implement mental health screening in all our primary care offices and our emergency department. We are working to make screening for depression and anxiety consistent throughout the health system, regardless of the reason for the visit.

Integrated Behavioral Health: Our Integrated Behavioral Health program puts mental and behavioral health therapists and pediatric psychologists directly in the primary care and specialty clinic settings, making access to care seamless. Although we currently implement this program in several clinics and primary care offices, our goal is to expand the program to reach all kids in these settings.

School-based mental health: We currently provide mental health services at dozens of schools from Racine to Eau Claire. Our programs help families overcome barriers to accessing mental health care, boost kids' learning outcomes and give educators new tools. We continue to expand our reach with the goal of partnering with more than 60 schools.

Watch Takiya's story: School-based mental health program

Therapist Fellowship Program: To address the shortage of pediatric mental health professionals, we have established a training program that will enroll a new cohort of trainees annually for the next five years and prepare therapists specially trained to serve kids.

Watch: The Therapist Fellowship Program is helping train future therapists

Early Childhood Mental Health Program: Our experts currently provide mental health care to kids age 5 and under at several locations. We are establishing a dedicated program that will anchor and coordinate the work of specialists statewide.

Urgent and emergent mental health: We are developing a dedicated, fully-staffed pediatric psychiatric assessment team within our emergency department.

Partnerships with inpatient and residential care providers: Currently, local organizations have separate systems of mental and behavioral health care. We are working with other health systems to improve access, outcomes and patient family experience for kids needing inpatient and residential care.

The road to achieving our vision isn't short or easy. But we won't stop until we've helped create a Wisconsin where every child gets the support he or she needs.

Learn more about our mental and behavioral health services.

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