MADISON – Governor Tony Evers and First Lady Kathy Evers today shared a video message encouraging Wisconsinites to take care of their mental health this holiday season.
Earlier this year, in recognition of the troubling statistics in recent years regarding mental health and the growing demand for mental and behavioral health care providers across the state, Governor Evers declared 2023 the Year of Mental Health, with he called mental and spiritual health. behavioral health a “emerging crisis” affecting the state and Wisconsin’s children, families and workforce.
The video message from the governor and first lady is available here, and a transcript of the video message is available below.
Governor: Hello there, Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers here.
First Lady: And I’m First Lady Kathy Evers.
Governor: I was proud to declare 2023 as the Year of Mental Health earlier this year.
First Lady: So as we begin the holidays, we want to remind Wisconsinites to take care of yourselves, your mental health, and each other.
Governor: While the holidays can be a happy time for some, we know that this season – and the expectations surrounding it – can also cause people to experience increased stress, anxiety, loneliness and sadness.
First Lady: It can be especially tough for those who have lost a loved one or faced other unique challenges in the past year.
Governor: But here in Wisconsin, no one carries their burdens alone.
First Lady: So, if you are able to, reach out to your neighbors, friends and loved ones, and no matter what challenges you face, it’s okay to share your feelings and ask for help.
Governor: Whether it’s a mental health or substance use crisis, or you or someone you love just needs someone to talk to, help and support are available 24/7 with a phone call or text to 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. 988 offers free and confidential support and you will be connected to a trained advisor who is ready to listen and help.
First Lady: You can also find tools and strategies to build your strength and resilience by visiting Resilient.Wisconsin.gov.
Governor: Remember that help and hope are always available. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other this holiday season, Wisconsin.
Governor Evers has been a champion of expanding access to mental and behavioral health care, and the 2023-2025 biennial budget, which Governor Evers signed earlier this year, included several investments to ensure more Wisconsinites can access mental health care get what they need, including students, farmers and veterans. Some of those investments include:
- Providing $30 million to continue support for mental health services in schools, modeled on the Governor’s successful “Get Kids Ahead” initiative;
- Providing $200,000 for mental health services to farmers and farm families. This critical funding allows farmers and farm family members to access personalized counseling services at no cost from a participating mental health provider in their area;
- Increasing funding by 25 percent for county veterans services offices and tribal veterans services offices, which help connect veterans to benefits, preventative programming and mental health resources;
- Providing more than $30 million over the two years to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for services provided in hospital behavioral health units;
- Providing $7 million over the two years for the psychiatry and behavioral health residency program at the Medical College of Wisconsin to support the recruitment and training of psychiatry and behavioral health residents;
- Providing $10 million in funding for up to two urgent care and observation centers, which will serve as regional receiving and stabilization facilities to improve services and patient outcomes;
- Providing $2 million over the two years to establish a pilot telemedicine crisis response program to provide faster and more efficient care;
- Providing more than $1 million over the two years for social-emotional training and technical support for child care providers; And
- Providing more than $500,000 in tribal gaming revenue over the two years to the Oneida Nation for staffing and service costs in their Healing to Wellness Court to support a coordinated post-conviction substance abuse program that will reduce recidivism and end the cycle of substance abuse breaking through.
In addition to the Governor’s budget investments, Governor Evers and Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James Bond launched the Veteran Mental Health Community-Based Organization Grant program earlier this year and announced nearly $650,000 in grants to 16 nonprofit organizations to promote positive mental health. through activities, programs and services that improve the emotional, psychological and social well-being of Wisconsin veterans. In September, Governor Evers also announced two additional Veterans Mental Health Services Grants for mental health providers to serve veterans in crisis or emergency mental health needs, and for licensed providers to provide mental health services to veterans.
Additionally, Governor Evers announced in October that DHS is receiving nearly $17 million in new federal funding to enhance operations of the 988 Wisconsin Lifeline, the service that answers calls, texts and chats to the Wisconsin 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline . based on telephone numbers and locations.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched in July 2022, after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) led efforts to create the program and secure funding. In its first year of service, Wisconsin’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline received more than 91,800 contacts – one of the highest call volumes in the country – and individuals reported struggling with suicidal thoughts and intentions, as well as mental health issues health, substance use, and interpersonal or relationship problems and abuse. The state has also seen record high rates of drug use and overdose deaths in recent years, with more than 1,700 Wisconsinites losing their lives to overdoses in 2022 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, research shows that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time of year for people struggling with their mental or behavioral health, including increased financial stress, loneliness and sadness, depression and increased substance abuse. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 64 percent of people with mental illness report that vacations make their condition worse.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends several strategies to help people and families take care of their mental health during the holidays, including:
- Spend time with people who love and support you.
- Avoid overbooking yourself and don’t feel guilty about making time for yourself.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and do not drink when you are feeling down.
- Take the time to exercise, exercise and go outside when the weather is nice.
- Make sure you get enough sleep and prioritize rest when necessary.
More strategies and tips to stay healthy and resilient this holiday season are available on the DHS website at resilient.wisconsin.gov.
In addition to increased stress around the holidays, about one-third of Wisconsin children experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness almost every day, according to the Office of Children’s Mental Health’s 2022 Annual Report — an increase of 10 percent over the past decade. The report also states that more than half of Wisconsin youth report anxiety, and nearly a quarter report self-harm. Find helpful conversation starters and tips for talking to teens to help families connect with kids during the holidays on the Office of Children’s Mental Health website.
Anyone needing support can call, text or chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at all hours of the day or night to speak to a trained counselor about any challenge or concern. This service is free and confidential.
Additional mental health information is available on the DHS website at:
If you are in immediate danger or experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.
If you have suicidal thoughts or want to hurt yourself, call your county crisis line or 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.