By State Rep. Warren Petryk Representing Wisconsin State Assembly District 93 The past year has been difficult for many of us. The pandemic pushed us to make major adjustments in our day-to-day work …
By State Rep. Warren Petryk
Representing Wisconsin State Assembly District 93
The past year has been difficult for many of us. The pandemic pushed us to make major adjustments in our day-to-day work or school life and significantly reduced much-needed social interactions with loved ones. For help, we leaned on the shoulders of family, friends and other loved ones while also allowing others to lean on us for support.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Wisconsinites found themselves struggling with mental health. In fact, nearly 900 Wisconsinites lost their life to suicide in 2020. Due to this concerning number, I continue to make increasing mental health care access in western Wisconsin a top priority.
Unfortunately, western Wisconsin's small mental health bed capacity forces many individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to travel across the state to Oshkosh for care — a trip that can take upwards of four hours. Not only is this long distance difficult for someone experiencing a crisis, but it creates a barrier for individuals to connect with
State Rep. Warren Petryk
their support systems and loved ones during this critical time in their life.
I worked diligently with my colleagues to co-author a bill, which was eventually signed into law that adds 22 mental health beds for the Eau Claire area. This increased capacity will reduce the transportation burden for both law enforcement officers and the individual experiencing a mental health crisis and will connect the individual to needed care more quickly.
Furthermore, this year's budget also included several investments in mental health care for youth, including increasing funding for schoolbased mental health services collaboration grants by 54 percent and providing an additional $12 million for mental health categorical aids which doubles the funding for the program. These increases in funding will help ensure that young Wisconsinites are receiving quality mental health care.
The budget also helps Wisconsin farmers by providing $200,000 for farmer mental health care. Earlier this session, the legislature passed a package of bills, which I co-authored, that increased funding for training mental health professionals so they are aware of the unique stressors farmers may encounter on a daily basis and are able to provide more effective mental health treatment for farmers.
Most recently, I co-authored a bill that would enact the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) in Wisconsin. This bill, if passed, will enable practicing psychologists in other states, such as Minnesota or Iowa, to see patients in Wisconsin and therefore, help increase mental health care access for people in western Wisconsin. I look forward to this bill moving through the legislative process.
If you or someone you know is struggling, remember that you always have a shoulder to lean on for support and that you can be a shoulder for a loved one to lean on during difficult times. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the crisis text line at 741741, both of which are confidential, free and available 24/7. If you or someone you know is at risk for serious harm, call 911 right away or visit the nearest emergency room.