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Milwaukee County, community health centers forge mental health partnerships

Wednesday, December 18, 2019  
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December 17, Wisconsin Health News

The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division has entered into partnerships with four community health centers to provide mental health services.

The county plans to place division services and staff in four clinics throughout Milwaukee.

That includes walk-in crisis clinics at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Outreach Community Health Center that are set to open next fall. The county will also provide services at clinics run by Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. and Progressive Community Health Centers.

The partnerships will provide patients access points to the county’s behavioral healthcare system, as well as peer services and benefits navigation.

Mike Lappen, Behavioral Health Division administrator, said the partnerships are critical as the county seeks to transform its behavioral health system. 

“This represents, really, the future of our community collaborations and our opportunities for expansion,” Lappen told members of the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board last week.

The partnerships grew out of discussions around establishing community “hubs” for services, Lappen said.

In 2016, the county was planning to establish a hub on the north side. But it deferred action due to community members saying they’d prefer going to current providers and locations, Lappen said. 

Lappen said they’re redeploying current resources in a more “efficient and community-centric way.” Many of the services and staff are currently located at the Mental Health Complex that’s part of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa.

“These four projects are us moving forward with this really important idea to move our BHD services closer to the people that need them and provide them really upstream and in a preventive way,” he said.

Lappen said that they’ve already stationed some of their staff at a Progressive clinic. Sixteenth Street announced the acquisition of a new building last month that will include the Behavioral Health Division’s location.