DHS funding helps improve access to mental health treatment

DHS funding helps improve access to mental health treatment

The Department of Health Services will improve access to treatment for those battling mental health and substance use disorders by increasing funding for behavioral health services, according to a release.

Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer announced Tuesday the $17 million investment, directed by Gov. Scott Walker, at the 13th annual Mental Health and Substance Use Recovery Training Conference in Wisconsin Dells.

The funding will include $7 million to raise reimbursement rates for professionals providing outpatient mental health and substance use disorder services, officials said.

“While we have made great strides in our efforts to help those living with mental health issues, or battling heroin addiction or prescription drug abuse, there is much more work to be done,” Walker said. “The painful and heartbreaking stories of lives lost and families devastated due to untreated mental health issues, or substance abuse, or both, are evidence that we are still in crisis here in Wisconsin and across the nation, and we will continue to be aggressive in this fight.”

Seemeyer said the increase will help fight heroin and prescription drug abuse.

According to DHS officials, in 2016, 827 people died in Wisconsin of opioid overdose deaths caused by heroin, prescription drugs, or both. From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths in Wisconsin due to prescription opioids increased 600 percent, from 81 to 568 in 2016. Heroin overdose deaths increased 12 times, from 28 deaths in 2000 to 371 deaths in 2016.

Starting Jan. 1, Wisconsin Medicaid will increase reimbursement for outpatient mental health and substance use disorder treatment.