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May 24, 2023

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley Advocates for Mental Health Policy Priorities in Nation’s Capital 
National Association of Counties Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing Amplifies Message at White House, Capitol Hill

MILWAUKEE – As a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing, Milwaukee County Executive David spent part of May in Washington, D.C. discussing policy priorities around mental and behavioral health. The commission also released new research highlighting county perspectives on this national crisis. 

Part of Mental Health Awareness Month efforts, the group joined the White House State and Local Partners Forum on Mental Health and Wellbeing earlier this month. The also commission met on Capitol Hill with the Bipartisan Mental Health Caucus and the Bipartisan Addiction Task Force. The group is focused on building urgency, awareness, and crucial partnerships around the mental health crisis in America, with plans to release in-depth policy and programmatic recommendations in early 2024. 

“Milwaukee County has made significant investments in community health resources over the last three years, saving taxpayer money and improving access for our most vulnerable residents. I was fortunate to be able share what we’ve learned with others and discuss what has worked in counties across the country,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “Making quality investments in our constituents for mental health treatment is critical across the board. In this ‘Year of Mental Health’ we need to focus on mental health for our youngest residents also bringing resources to their schools and to their neighborhoods.”  

The commission released new data based on a survey of over 200 U.S. counties, with findings focused on the mental health landscape in counties and the areas of greatest need.

Key takeaways from the research include:

  • The nation is facing an acute escalation of the mental and behavioral health crisis. 75% of counties reported an increase in incidence of behavioral health conditions in the last year, and 89% reported an increase compared to five years ago.
  • Youth behavioral health needs are at the forefront of the crisis. 67% of counties reported that youth behavioral health conditions are “definitely a problem” or “very prevalent and/or severe.”
  • Limited access to services inhibits county residents from receiving the help they need. 74% of counties cited financial costs as a barrier to expanding access to behavioral health services, and 71% cited lack of direct service providers.
  • The financial and human costs of behavioral health are compounding across all county systems. 80% of counties indicated that they incurred associated costs in the legal system, 77% indicated associated costs in law enforcement, and 54% indicated associated costs in the health system and hospitals.

 “I’m glad to see leaders across the country focusing on this important issue. This is a critical time for conversations about mental health in our community,” said Milwaukee County Mental Health Board Chair Dr. Maria Perez. “When you think about Milwaukee County in particular, we’ve seen the mental health crisis manifest in several different ways, across an array of demographics. If we are to move forward and help our community, we need to continue to reach across the aisle at the local, state, and federal level to make these investments in resources upstream to address those key issues.”

For more information about NACo’s Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing, click here.



(414) 278-4211 | fax: (414) 223-1375
Milwaukee County Courthouse, Room 306
901 N. 9th Street | Milwaukee, WI 53233

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