Dear Friends,

I hope you are well. This fall, it's not just kids that are going back to school. Many of our brave veterans are using the GI Bill to attend colleges and universities in Wisconsin. Thanks to a bill I authored, those veterans have a new option this school year.

Wisconsin Act 149 allows the Wisconsin GI Bill to be used to attend private, non-profit institutions. Our veterans bravely served this nation and bring leadership and value to our communities. This bill gives veterans more options to continue their education here and find a job in Wisconsin after they complete their degree.

In this week's E-Update, September is Suicide Prevention Month - our state is making major steps in ensuring people get the help they need, there's updated COVID-19 information for our area, and more!

As always, if you have any concerns or ideas on how to improve our great state, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 608-266-5830 or by email at Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov.

On, Wisconsin!
September is Suicide Prevention Month
September is Suicide Prevention Month but the lock downs are leading to a mental health crisis in our country. According to the Center for Disease Control, one quarter of young adults have thought about suicide during this pandemic.

Our state had a mental health crisis before the pandemic and it's clear the lock downs are making it worse. I'm grateful my colleagues and I made fighting this crisis a top priority.

The need is great. Teen suicide has doubled since 2007. Our state ranks near the bottom in the number of youth who experienced a major depressive episode, but did not get mental health services. Twenty-four percent of kids in our state are diagnosed with a mental illness. We are ranked too low (36th) in the number of mental health workers who can help. I fought to change those rankings.

Investing in mental health was a huge priority in the state budget. I made sure we doubled current funding for student mental health programs to help kids access needed services. Our total investment in mental health funding reached $18.57 million. I also led on investing in the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program which connects primary care doctors with child psychiatrists so they can adequately treat the kids in their care. 
 
Another resource for kids comes from a bill I authored with Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna. Wisconsin Act 117 allows the Medical College of Wisconsin to create a school-based mental health consultation pilot program. The pilot is run by the Medical College of Wisconsin and funded with $175,000 annually from the Department of Health Services. School personnel will be educated on how to manage mental health concerns in the classroom, where to refer complex cases, and will also receive educational training seminars.

That won't be the only help kids will have in school. I also wrote a bill that will fund peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs for our schools. Peer-to-peer programs like "Hope Squad" and "Sources of Strength" are making a real difference in preventing suicides. The programs help change the way kids talk about mental health, train peers to identify signs of crisis and seek help, and train student leaders for kids to contact when they need additional support. 

Tragically, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in our state. For kids between the ages of 10 and 18, it's the second leading cause of death. Peer-to-Peer programs will help kids see a support network in their school and help them understand that they are not alone. 

Another bill of mine that became law will make sure parents are involved in their child's mental health care. My bill enables mental health providers to receive reimbursements for consultations with parents about their children. This new law will help make sure parents are aware of and participating in their children's treatment plan.

Money and new laws won't completely solve the mental health crisis in our state, but I am proud of the efforts we've made to make this issue a priority. If you know someone in crisis, don't be afraid to ask the tough questions.
COVID-19 Cases in Our Area
The table above contains data reported on September 9, 2020 from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on coronavirus cases in our area.
Emergency Room Visits with COVID Symptoms
According to data from the Center for Disease Control, emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms are around one percent.

COVID-19 Testing Available
Around the 8th...
On Wednesday, Representative Janel Brandtjen and I toured Tesla's first service center on Silver Springs Drive in Milwaukee.

It's Tesla's first physical location in Wisconsin. Before this, Tesla owners had to take their cars to Illinois for service. Tesla is hiring more workers for the location. 

Thanks for the invite!