In addition to providing $100 million to help protect our schools and children, I have also worked to make sure kids get the mental health care they need.
In 2013, I helped take steps to counteract the psychiatrist shortage by providing funds for the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program (CPCP). This innovative program connects primary care providers with child psychiatrists. Operated by the Medical College of Wisconsin, the program allows providers to receive consultations on youth mental health cases and also provides educational seminars on mental health for providers.
This session, I worked with Representative Jim Steineke of Kaukauna to expand the program and create a comprehensive Mental Health Consultation Program (MHCP) for Wisconsin. The MHCP would be a resource for primary care providers throughout the state for services related to perinatal, child, adult, geriatric, pain, veteran, and general mental health consultation services. The MHCP would provide education, consultative support, and community resource referrals for primary care physicians.
Our bill is an innovative solution to serve more constituents’ mental health needs and better prepare our primary care providers to face the emerging mental health concerns in our communities.
I've long been a proponent of focusing on "trauma-informed" care. Trauma-informed care shifts our perspective from "what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” Adverse childhood experiences are a measure of trauma an individual has experienced. About 60 percent of Wisconsinites report at least one adverse childhood experience. The trauma children experience influences their learning, health, and behavior.
I'm very proud of my work in improving mental health care in our state. I helped create and fund mental health programs in the budget, and we doubled our investment into school mental health services in the most recent budget. Next session, I hope to build on those successes.
I'm not afraid to pass common-sense gun reforms either. I worked with law enforcement and advocates alike to author a comprehensive law to crack down on gun violence in Wisconsin. These reforms created mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes committed by repeat offenders closed the straw purchase loophole and created a penalty for people who carry guns for criminals.
Research has shown that in most cases, criminals who obtain firearms do so through “straw purchases,” which is when one individual who cannot legally purchase a firearm has another individual do so on their behalf. I authored 2017 Act 145, which passed the State Legislature with wide bipartisan support and made it a felony to straw purchase for a criminal in Wisconsin.
Considering that we already have a strong involuntary commitment law on the books, I believe our first priority should be making sure that our current laws are being enforced to their fullest extent in order to combat gun violence. One of my main focuses in making our state safer is championing legislation that works to mitigate the root causes of gun violence by working to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.