By Gov. Tony Evers
The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, and here in Wisconsin, we know that to build a bright and strong future for our state, we must expand mental health programs and ensure every Wisconsinite has access to the care and support they need.
For far too long, mental health has been stigmatized and discounted — but mental healthcare is important, not just for thriving individuals, but for resilient and prosperous communities.
As a former teacher, principal, school district administrator, and now as governor of the great state of Wisconsin, I’ve long said that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.
As parents and educators are seeing firsthand everyday, our kids also face mental health challenges, which have only been made worse by the events of the past two years.
That’s why during my State of the State address earlier this year, I announced the “Get Kids Ahead” initiative, a common sense program that is expanding mental health resources by delivering crucial funding to nearly every school district in Wisconsin.
These investments from our “Get Kids Ahead” initiative will go directly towards the mental health resources our kids need so they can be successful both in and out of the classroom and to help them grow, learn, and get ahead.
In Milwaukee, I joined students and leaders from Milwaukee Public Schools, H. W. Longfellow School, and Journey House to hear about the work being done to bolster student mental health. Through my “Get Kids Ahead” initiative, Milwaukee Public Schools is receiving nearly $1 million that will be used to provide direct mental health care, hire and support mental health navigators, provide mental health first aid and trauma-based care training, or provide family assistance programs.
I often talk about connecting the dots in our communities — like creating jobs and economic opportunity for all, increasing funding for public schools, ensuring safe streets, and fixing the damn roads. By investing in school-based mental health resources, we’re connecting the dots and building a brighter future for Wisconsin.
But not only are we investing in mental health resources for our kids, we’re also expanding access to folks across the state by increasing telehealth services and creating programs designed to help National Guard members and veterans with mental health challenges.
We would not be here as a state without the extraordinary efforts of the Wisconsin National Guard, and their service, especially during the pandemic, has not come without cost — emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Earlier this year, I announced a new Blue Ribbon Commission on Veteran Opportunity and directed $5 million to Wisconsin National Guard’s Comprehensive Wellness Office so that every Wisconsin National Guard member has access to mental health resources and counseling.
There is still more work that needs to be done, and that’s why this Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m committed to continue lowering healthcare costs and expanding access to mental health programs across the state. Because when we invest in Wisconsinites and their well being, we connect the dots and can build a stronger and brighter future for our state.
Tony Evers is the governor of the state of Wisconsin. Learn more about him and his plans for the state at TonyEvers.com.