WAUWATOSA (WITI) — Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) and Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) gave a welcoming address Thursday morning, July 17th to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board (MCMHB). The MCMHB held its first meeting Thursday at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex.
The MCMHB was created under 2013 WI Act 203 and is comprised of 13 members who are mental health professionals, advocates, consumers and academics. They will be responsible for redesigning the program for the delivery of mental health services in Milwaukee County.
“Today is a great day for individuals suffering with mental health issues and their family members,” said Senator Leah Vukmir.
“Milwaukee County has had a seriously substandard mental health program for decades. While the problems have been well documented in a number of studies and investigative reports, local politicians who were entrusted with setting the policy for the delivery of these vital services have largely ignored the problem,” Rep. Joe Sanfelippo said.
Until the creation of the MCMHB, the policy setting responsibility for the notoriously problem-plagued program rested with the Milwaukee County Board. While studies dating back over 20 years have recommended medical professionals trained for the delivery of this highly specialized service replace politicians as the policy makers, the Milwaukee County Board repeatedly ignored those recommendations.
Governor Walker made reforming mental health services in Wisconsin a priority for his administration this past session. That finally opened the door to reforming the worst mental health program in the state.
2013 Senate Bill 565, which later became 2013 WI Act 203, was authored by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Senator Leah Vukmir. Senate Bill 565 passed both the State Assembly and the State Senate with an overwhelming 122-1 bipartisan vote.
“Thanks to Governor Walker’s steadfast commitment to improving mental health services, individuals suffering with mental illness will finally have a patient-centered program that places the priority for decision making solely on what is best for the patients,” Sanfelippo said.