Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa), Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo), Rep. Supreme Moore Omokunde (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Lori A. Palmeri (D-Oshkosh) reintroduced the “Mental Healthcare is Healthcare” legislation package to the Wisconsin State Assembly Oct. 5, according to a WisPolitics press release.

The bills included in the package were originally introduced in the 2021 session by three of the same legislators. But, all bills in the package failed to pass the Assembly at the time.

The updated legislation package contains items that would improve mental healthcare access for students across the Universities of Wisconsin.

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Assembly Bill 751 would have provided $2.5 million from 2021 to 2022 and $7.5 million from 2022 to 2023. This funding was aimed at improving staffing, training, operations and bolstering student health services throughout the Universities of Wisconsin.

In a statement written by Rep. Vining on her Facebook account she discussed the impact this package will have on students attending UW schools.

“[This package will invest] in the mental health needs of college students by giving resources to UW schools to hire more mental health providers to keep up with the increased demand for these services,” Rep. Vining said.

All Democratic State Senators are in support of the package, according to Rep. Vining. As of Oct. 12, Rep. Vining, Rep. Considine, Rep. Moore Omokunde and Rep. Palmeri are still looking for co-sponsors of the package in the assembly.

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The other three bills in the package promote mental health access in Wisconsin K-12 schools.

President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness at UW-Madison, Katherine Zimmerman said University Health Services has taken great strides to improve mental health services, but waiting times continue to be an issue.

“I think MHS [MHS Health Wisconsin] and UHS have taken large steps in the right direction when it comes to providing accessible mental health care … [but] if they’re [students] not able to get an appointment within a timeframe that they need it, they kind of become unmotivated and they feel lost and don’t know what to do,” Zimmerman said.

Students seeking support can reach out to NAMI-UW to get connected to the right resources, Zimmerman said.

Resources regarding suicide prevention and mental health:

  • Trevor Lifeline: https://www.crisistextline.org/ crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25
  • 24/7 crisis support 608-265-5600 (option 9)

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