WUWM Lake Effect: Barriers to Mental Health Services Could Remain Despite Budgetary Help

March 20, 2013

by Amy Kiley

The state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance is hearing from the Department of Health Services this morning. As the committee revises Governor Scott Walker’s budget, it will examine the proposed allocation of about $30 million toward mental health services.

Advocates largely applaud the idea but say money alone can’t overcome every obstacle.

Walter Laux is the director of Behavioral Health Services for Community Advocates. The Milwaukee-based group helps meet the basic needs of those who are struggling. He spoke with Lake Effect’s Amy Kiley about the governor’s plan for mental health funding – and barriers to care.

One issue is the fact that many mentally ill people end up incarcerated.

"Criminal justice facilities have become the de facto mental health institutions, so individuals who may commit offenses, due to their psychiatric symptoms, due to their behavioral health needs, end up in the institutions," Laux says.

If you or someone you know has an untreated mental illness, Laux suggests you check out Mental Health America or the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can also call 2-11 for a range of social services.

Please click here to listen to the radio interview on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio's Lake Effect program.

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