A Healthier Wisconsin

Mental Health Access in Rural Southwestern Wisconsin

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II: Reducing poor mental health days in southwestern Wisconsin

Full Project Name:Advancing Access to Improved Mental Health in Rural Southwestern WisconsinPrimary Community Organization:Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action ProgramPrimary Academic Partner:Michelle Broaddus, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$1,000,000.00
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II National and transnational agencies including CDC, WHO, and the British NHS are adopting well-being scales as a general measure of population-based mental health. Well-being is a composite of several measures, however a key component is the number of days that individuals report good mental health. In addition, in the U.S., data indicate that one in four adults experience a diagnosable mental illness each year, but more than half will not seek treatment. Recognizing an immediate need to improve overall mental and behavioral health outcomes in the Grant County, Green County, Iowa County, Lafayette County and Richland County communities, the project team aims to reduce the rate of adults experiencing 14 or more days of poor mental health by 10% within the five-county region in southwestern Wisconsin by:

  • Increasing the acceptability of mental health treatment across the adult population of the five-county region so that more people will be willing to utilize mental health services
  • Increasing the accessibility of mental health treatment through development of conduits to a comprehensive network of services
  • Increasing the availability of mental health services so that people can receive timely and appropriate care

This project is part of AHW's Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative, an eight-year, $20 million initiative bringing together 10 community coalitions from across Wisconsin to address pressing mental health needs within their communities. The initiative is designed in three phases, providing a funded planning year, a five-year implementation period, and a two-year sustainable transformation phase.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Implemented programming to increase mental health literacy and directly address the community's cultural prohibitions around acknowledging emotion, including the Break Your Stress Cycle media campaign to normalize the idea that we all face stress and can use simple skills to help relieve it, anti-stigma workshops, and workshops for those with lived experience to tell their stories
  • Increased the availability of informal peer support through training 11 peer specialists who are now embedded in all five counties, institutionalizing a navigators program in Green County, and providing evidence-based trainings for community members
  • Implemented the Trilogy Network of Care web-based resource hub to support online access across the five-county footprint to local mental health resources
  • Engaged in broad community-based dissemination to raise awareness of mental health and local resources available resulting in a 20% increase in the number of media articles about mental health during the project period Changed the conversation about mental health and wellness and nurtured a culture where more people are developing the skills to understand and accept their emotions

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