Gov. Tony Evers. (Courtesy Larry Lee)

Five ‘crisis stabilization’ facilities open across Wisconsin

Regional centers to address mental health, substance use needs

By Patrick Lynn

Madison — Wisconsin has opened five crisis stabilization centers for adults, a significant step in addressing mental health and substance use emergencies.

Funded by the Department of Health Services (DHS), the centers provide care for individuals who cannot safely stay in their communities but do not require hospitalization.

“Whether it’s declaring 2023 the Year of Mental Health, securing new investments for school-based mental health and other initiatives, or supporting the launch of the state’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline contact center, we’ve been working to find solutions to the burgeoning mental health crisis facing our state since 2019,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a press release from DHS.

DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson said the need for services for people experiencing mental health and substance use emergencies has been rising steadily over the past several years.

“Our investment in these five crisis stabilization facilities for adults is a commitment to ensuring the right care is available at the right time in the right place for all state residents who need help,” she said.

DHS allocated $10 million in 2021 to develop these centers, with funds sourced from Wisconsin’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Four providers received funding in 2022 to establish these centers, forming partnerships with county agencies.

The facilities and their service regions are as follows:

  • Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services in Waukesha serves Dodge, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha counties.
  • Elevate in Beaver Dam serves Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Fond du Lac, and Marquette counties.
  • North Central Health Care in Wausau serves Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, and Vilas counties.
  • Tellurian in La Crosse serves Barron, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Trempealeau, and Washburn counties.
  • Tellurian in Madison serves Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Juneau, Lafayette, Richland, Rock, Sauk, and Vernon counties.

Access to these centers is available through referrals from county crisis lines. Staffed 24/7, the centers provide individual counseling, group therapy, medication management, and skill-building activities, with stays ranging from one to seven days or more.

In addition to these adult facilities, three crisis stabilization centers for youth are located in Jefferson, Milwaukee, and Wausau.

During his 2023 State of the State address, Gov. Evers declared 2023 the Year of Mental Health, emphasizing the urgent need to address mental and behavioral health issues. The 2023-25 budget includes $10 million for two crisis urgent care and observation centers. Wisconsin Act 249, signed by Gov. Evers, establishes a certification process and grant program for these centers, aiming to expand crisis care infrastructure.

The DHS “Crisis Now” initiative focuses on ensuring access to someone to contact, someone to respond to, and a safe place to go for help. People experiencing mental health and substance use emergencies should call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for assistance. For life-threatening situations, they should call 911.