Control of Wisconsin’s mental health system questioned

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The main question facing state and local lawmakers regarding the improvement of the mental health system in Wisconsin is "who should be responsible?"

Sandy Pasch, State Representative and Vice Chair of the Speaker's Task Force on Mental Health, believe the current system isn't working for the people dealing with mental illness.

"I would like to start over, actually," said Pasch.

Each county in Wisconsin currently handles its mental health system, which Pasch says adds to the problem instead of helping it. She proposes that Wisconsin look at other state models around the country, specifically Iowa.

"What Iowa does, instead of looking at the counties each delivering, they look more to a regional approach," Pasch explained.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Russell Stamper II disagrees. In a released statement Stamper said:

"While I am open to any discussion to make mental healthcare better, we need to focus on the quality care for consumers, not eliminating the board's authority over the system."

Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West added that while she is open to new ideas, she feels recent changes have them moving in the right direction.

"We're not closing our mind to what they're doing in Iowa, we're just simply saying there are states that are coming here to take a look at what we're doing, and so we're pretty proud of what it is that we're doing," Romo West said.

"It shouldn't be a power struggle over who gets to make decisions. What this should be about is how do we best serve people in the state of Wisconsin who are living with mental health problems," added Pasch.

Pasch says studying Iowa's model is only a recommendation at this point and it would be a few years down the line before any changes would be made.