Governor Tony Evers made a visit to Children’s Wisconsin to announce a big investment in the mental health of Wisconsin’s kids. Gov. Evers announced more than $14 million in grants through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. $5 million of this funding will go to Children’s Wisconsin.
During his visit, Gov. Evers took time to hear the impact that announcement can have from Austin, a strong youth advocate for mental health services, Austin’s mom, Melissa, and Tammy Makhlouf, the manager of the Craig Yabuki Mental Health Walk-In Clinic.
Children’s Wisconsin will use the funding to support our ongoing efforts to transform how we are providing mental health services. $2.7 million will help start a pediatric psychology residency program in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin. $2.3 million will support a new service for kids on a wait-list for a mental health provider. Providers in this new service will provide a limited amount of therapy sessions, education and assist in transferring care to another provider.
We know the need is urgent. A recent study showed that 44 percent of high school students reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless within the last year. That is the highest number ever recorded. Between 2019 and 2021, call volumes to our mental and behavioral health access center tripled.
“Too many kids are in a mental health crisis and we don’t have enough resources to support these families throughout the state,” said Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children’s Wisconsin. “With this grant to support Children’s Wisconsin’s mental and behavioral health initiatives, we will be able to continue to make an impact on the lives of the kids and families who need us now more than ever.”
By creating the psychologist fellowship program, students will be able to complete their residency right in Wisconsin. When these students leave the state to do their residency, it makes it much more likely for them to accept a position where they completed their residency.
“Psychologists are in such high demand nationally,” said Cheryl Brosig, PhD, a psychologist at Children’s Wisconsin, and section chief and medical director of Pediatric Psychology and Developmental Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “We are committed to integrating psychologists into every subspecialty area, but this will require creative ways to expand our workforce.”
The grants are part of a series of investments funded by the American Rescue Plan Act to transform Wisconsin’s behavioral health system. In 2019, Children’s Wisconsin announced our own commitment to invest $150 million in mental health programs to address this crisis. To learn how you can play an active role in your child's mental and behavioral health, visit our Shine Through website.