Sen. Schachtner introduces bill to address mental health crisis


(MADISON) – Today, Senator Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset) introduced LRB 3873 to require the Department of Health Services (DHS) to collaborate with hospitals to develop a grant program to establish regional mental health crisis centers for emergency detentions. Local and state leaders have been working together to address this critical issue. This bi-partisan proposal provides one of many solutions to the mental health challenges facing Western Wisconsin and the entire state.

Across northwestern Wisconsin, our law enforcement officers are responding to an increasing number of mental health emergencies. DHS currently requires that individuals in need of emergency detention and involuntary commitment be taken to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Law enforcement in small communities are put under considerable strain attempting to deal with the significant travel and time away from other important duties.

“Working toward regional solutions will help keep law enforcement in their home communities and allow those experiencing a mental health crisis to stay closer to friends and families,” said Senator Schachtner.

Western Wisconsin saw an increase of 284% in the use of Winnebago between 2013 and 2017. For example, an officer responding to a mental health emergency in Hudson must drive 3 hours and 50 minutes one way. For an officer responding in Wood River, they travel for over 9 hours to transport an individual and return to their community.

“It is critical that we do more to address the mental health crisis our friends and neighbors are experiencing in western Wisconsin. Creating a regional grant program for emergency crisis stabilization facilities will build on the strong foundation of local efforts in our area while supporting law enforcement as they respond to this crisis around the state,” concluded Senator Schachtner.