Physicians Hall Front

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment Shares Insights from an Eight-Year $20M Project Focused on Mental and Behavioral Health

Milwaukee, Feb. 21, 2024 – The announces the publication of a resource entitled the Behavioral Health Strategy Guide to disseminate the research and coalition-developed strategies generated by an innovative $20 million investment in 10 community partners who spent the last eight years studying, shaping and creating community-driven, sustainable solutions to addressing mental and behavioral health concerns in Wisconsin.

The work captured in the Strategy Guide reflects a major coordinated effort aimed at understanding the mental and behavioral health issues affecting communities statewide, along with actionable solutions to address them. Participating coalitions represented a diverse cross-section of Wisconsin, serving rural, urban, suburban, and tribal populations.

View the Behavioral Health Strategy Guide

Beginning with funding provided through a competitive process in 2015, the coalitions forged partnerships between mental health clinics, school districts, law enforcement, and community organizations to create a sustainable path forward to address the growing issue of mental health in Wisconsin.

“We’re proud of the work and the progress these community coalitions have made toward improving mental health and eliminating the stigma surrounding it,” said AHW director Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH. “At a time when mental health resources are stretched beyond capacity, the purpose of the Behavioral Health Strategy Guide is to ensure the coalitions’ lessons live on and the end results can be replicated elsewhere.”

In each of the 10 regions across Wisconsin, several unique strategies were developed and implemented to address mental health in those communities. The focus of the community coalition work varied based on local needs. Topics addressed include:

  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • School-based mental health
  • Youth Risk Behavior Survey data reporting
  • Online listings of local mental health resources
  • Crisis safety plans for law enforcement use during mental health calls
  • Mental health first aid trainings for workplaces, faith-based organizations, and educators
  • Behavioral health evaluations in children ages birth to five
  • Social emotional learning

The guide details the strategies each group used to establish its community partner coalition and decide the issue(s) to focus on. The Strategy Guide also documents the path each coalition took to address its region’s mental health challenges, and highlights best practices and lessons learned from their efforts. The goal of disseminating this information is to allow other mental health advocates to adapt and carry out the strategies for their own use.

“The goal from the start of this groundbreaking project was to create localized and, importantly, sustainable solutions to addressing mental health. The Behavioral Health Strategy Guide effectively outlines actionable ways to implement these tested programs in other Wisconsin communities – and beyond,” said Ehrenfeld.

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