MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin will receive nearly $50 million in funding from the federal government to address mental health and substance abuse problems, according to a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

The funding comes as part of the American Rescue Plan Act and will add $24.6 million to mental health services and $22 million to substance use services over the next four years via block grants.

“Access to affordable mental and behavioral healthcare was already a critical need for communities across our state, and that need has only become more urgent after the challenges of the last year,” Gov. Tony Evers said in the release. “These funds will allow us to serve folks who have been affected by the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders and while closing gaps in access to community mental health services for those who need them the most.”

The submitted plan will allow county and tribal human services departments to direct funding as needed within their communities.

Other features proposed in the plan include:

  • Enhancements to substance use prevention activities for all ages

  • Expanded access to NARCAN®, the opioid overdose reversal drug

  • Measures to strengthen the system supporting stabilization and other services for people experiencing a mental health or substance use emergency

  • Expanded access to community-based treatment services

  • Expanded support networks to promote recovery including peer specialists and recovery coaches

“With this support from the federal government, we have an opportunity to bring about significant change and make a difference for Wisconsin residents who are struggling,” DHS secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said in the release. “We know that mental health and substance use issues affect people of every race, every age, every walk of life, all across our state.

"The need for mental health and substance use services has never been greater, due in part to the stress and trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic along with other events of the past several years," she continued. "This federal funding will make sure our mental health and substance use services providers can continue to meet the need in communities across Wisconsin today and into the future.”