September is National Suicide Prevention Month.


Paul R. Tittl
Representative District 25
Wisconsin State Assembly

Mental health needs in Wisconsin are large and increasing. Compared to other states, Wisconsin is somewhere in the middle of the pack. However, in some areas, Wisconsin ranks towards the bottom. Here are some examples:

- Youth with at least one Major Depressive Episode (MDE) in the past year
 (14.5%, state ranking: 44th)
- Youth with Severe MDE (10.2%, 44th)
- Youth with MDE who did not receive mental health services (66.4%, 42nd)
- Youth with a substance abuse disorder in the past year (5.6%, 35th)

These statistics should give us concern. I'm currently working on some pieces of legislation aimed at improving the situation. Below are a couple of paragraphs explaining these bills and the problems they address.

Psychiatry Tax Credit
Twenty counties in Wisconsin have no practicing psychiatrist, and fifty-five of Wisconsin’s 72 counties face a significant shortage. Because of this psychiatry shortage and the high prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse in Wisconsin, it is projected that more than half of Wisconsin adults in need of mental health services are likely to go without care if action is not taken to reduce the shortage (cf. Wisconsin Policy Forum study, 2018).

Under the bill, psychiatrists practicing in underserved areas as defined by federal law could deduct up to $200,000 of income earned from the practice of psychology in a taxable year. Psychiatrists practicing in other areas of the state could deduct up to $100,000. The deduction could be claimed for a total of five years. These changes are designed to encourage new psychiatrists to practice in Wisconsin.   

Boys and Girls Club – Trauma Informed Care
This bill creates a grant program for community based organizations to provide trauma informed care staff, training, and materials as they interact with children who are at risk after experiencing trauma. By integrating trauma-informed culture, policies and practices with the youth who need it most, organizations such as Wisconsin Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs can help improve the well-being of children. The intent of this grant program is to help create trauma sensitive, non-school-based environments where children and youth are already attending in substantial numbers, leading to a decrease in opioid abuse, an increase in school attendance, fewer behavioral incidences, higher graduation rates, and enhanced workforce development.     

Clubhouse Grant Funding
Mental health Clubhouses such as Painting Pathways in Manitowoc, are non-residential programs providing support and services to people with mental illness. These organizations are a very cost-effective way to deliver that assistance. This bill creates a grant program for Clubhouses to receive matching grants up to $50,000 per Clubhouse per year. Total funding per year is limited to $500,000. As the number of people dealing with mental illness increases, Clubhouses play an important role, providing assistance concerning education, housing, and employment. Clubhouses also offer an opportunity to build long-term relationships centered around people dealing with mental health problems. 

Psychology Statute Update
The Wisconsin State Statutes require anyone practicing psychology in Wisconsin to be licensed by the state’s Psychology Examining Board. However, the statutes are in need of revision because they have not kept up with changes in the profession since the current law was enacted in 1994. This legislation modernizes the state’s psychology laws removing barriers that make it difficult for health care organizations to hire psychologists, for psychologists to enter the workplace, and for people in Wisconsin to receive mental health services. The bill also expands the licensing exemptions for people engaged in activities related to psychology and removes red tape in the current statute. 

Paul R. Tittl
Representative District 25
Wisconsin State Assembly

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