Each year, more than $63.5 million in Dane County funds go to support community based mental health treatment and services—a figure that has more than doubled over the past decade. An additional $865,000 will be added to the 2020 budget to further address mental health and addiction recovery in our community.
Too many times each year, families across our community experience the unrivaled pain of losing a loved one at the hands of mental illness or addiction. Earlier this year, a member of Dane County’s family lived this tragedy, when Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs and his wife Cynthia lost their son, C.J. Tubbs. To honor his life, Dane County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget creates the “C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing and Recovery”—a new $500,000 county grant program designed to enhance community based mental health and addiction services.
Dane County will partner with Safe Communities to convene the “End Deaths By Despair Coalition” for a coordinated, communitywide dialogue and real-time review of efforts that are working and potential new ideas to reduce the risk of deaths by despair communitywide. The coalition will bring together partners from Dane County health care and payer systems, criminal justice, K12 and higher education, non-profit and faith leaders, and human services providers to develop a shared work plan and help prevent the irreparable pain brought on by suicide and premature, preventable deaths.
Dane County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget proposal includes $80,000 to expand the “recovery coach” model into Drug Court deferred prosecution programs, and community organizations like the Outreach LGBT Community Center and those who work directly with African American, Latino, and Hmong populations. Dane County has funded the ED2Recovery program since its inception, and this latest investment brings the county’s total financial support of “recovery coach” efforts to $345,191.
This program focuses on mental health efforts with young people and families with school-aged children. It has grown to be an over $1 million a year effort working directly with young people, their parents, and teachers in nearly five dozen Dane County schools. The 2020 budget adds the $40,000 needed for Building Bridges to be offered year-round in the Monona Grove School District—the latest to join the program.
There is community interest in exploring whether a “Mental Health Court” could better link those who find their way into the criminal justice system with an underlying mental health or behavioral condition with an alternative process—one that is focused on treatment and rehabilitation. This budget includes $25,000 to study the feasibility of creating such a court that could be modeled after other successful diversion programs in Dane County.
County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget proposal also includes $200,000 to bolster mental health services for older populations. These dollars will fund two full-time mental health professionals as part of a pilot project to assist non-Medicaid eligible adult seniors. The staff will work with Senior Focal Point case managers to help keep seniors who experience chronic mental illness living independently.