Contacting your Legislators

Unsure of who your legislators are or how to contact them? Click here

facebookCheck our Facebook page for weekly updates on recent policy issues related to mental health.

You can link to our page here >>

Current Bills and Proposals

Summary of Bills from the 2011-2012 Legislative Session

The good, the bad and the ugly is not just a Clint Eastwood film (and an old one at that),  it is a good description of the fate of bills that MHA was tracking this session. For details click here.

Seclusion and Restraints

Research shows that seclusion and restraint use fails to teach a child more appropriate behavior. It also interferes with their chance to develop trusting relationships with school and program staff members. Yet these interventions continue to be  used in school and treatment settings. The problem was documented in a report by Disability Rights Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Ties, and Wisconsin Facets: Out of Darkness...Into the Light ( )

Currently there is both state and federal legislation to address the use of seclusion and restraints in schools.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381/S. 2020) would prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools and is the first national effort to address this problem and ensure the safety of all students and school staff. The Keeping All Students Safe Act is a balanced, bi-partisan approach to making classrooms safer and is vital to stopping the use of seclusion, restraint and other abusive interventions in schools that cause unnecessary trauma, injury and death to America's children. This legislation establishes important minimum safety standards in schools, similar to the protections already in place in hospitals and non-medical community-based facilities. Contact your Congressional representatives now: TAKE ACTION!

In Wisconsin the State Senate has already approved a bill to severely limit and regulate the use of seclusion and restraint in schools. The bill is awaiting passage in the State Assembly. This bill was developed collaboratively with stakeholders representing parents, advocacy groups, teachers, school administrators and school boards and has had strong bipartisan support in committee. Please contact your State Representative and ask them to vote for AB455/SB353. You can find a copy of the bill here:

Contacting Your Legislators

Unsure of who your legislators are? Click here.

Response to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Articles

MHA has joined with a number of other advocacy organizations to express our concerns about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's recent stories about people with mental illness who may be at imminent danger of harming themselves or others.

If you read the "Imminent Danger" series, you may have concluded that 1) people with mental illness are dangerous and 2) that the primary problem with our mental health system is we don't have enough forced treatment. This is definitely not the case!

MHA believes that accurate information is an important part of this dialogue. People with mental illnesses are no more likely to be violent that people in the general population. As for forced treatment, the Op-ed from the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force sums up our view.

Mental Health/Substance Abuse Infrastructure Study

Many people feel that the public mental health system is broken. But if so, how does one fix it? In 2009 the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) contracted for a study of Wisconsin's mental health system. The study found, to no one's surprise, that there is considerable variation in the services that are available to people with mental illness from one part of the State to another. The report also looked at various ideas for how to address this. To see a copy of the study go to:

Work continued in 2010 identifying some promising ideas, such as better integration of mental health/substance use disorders with primary care, more cross-county collaboration, and identification of core services. A Request for Information was released to see what sort of interest there was in piloting some of these ideas. Read a summary of this process and a summary of the proposals submitted

A steering committee has been formed to oversee the implementation of pilot programs. Watch for more information in 2012.

Medical Homes

Medical homes are not a place but rather a set of principles for providing wholistic care to individuals. Medical homes are built on the relationship between a person using health care services and one physician/team that is accountable for providing or arranging all of their care. This is an especially promising approach for individuals with serious mental illnesses, who die much younger than the general population in part because of the lack of access to good health care.

As the Wisconsin Department of Health Services moves forward with developing medical homes for special populations, including individuals with mental illnesses, it is important to know about the resources available about this issue.

General Information on Medical Homes

The National Council is SAMHSA's technical assistance center on integration of mental health and primary care

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy brief on medical homes

The Bazelon Center has a number of documents on medical homes and integration of mental health and physical health care

State Examples: 

The National Academy for State Health Policy has released a report on Building Medical Homes: Lessons from Eight States with Emerging Programs

The Center for Health Care Strategies has this report on integrated Medicaid managed care programs for people with disabilities

Missouri submitted a Medicaid State Plan Amendment to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The Missouri Department of Mental Health makes many of their resources available online

A summary of Missouri's project