Department of Health and Human Services

Past, Present & Future State of BHS

For more than 100 years, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services (BHS) has delivered high-quality behavioral health care to Milwaukee County’s residents, regardless of severity or ability to pay. With the largest network of behavioral health providers in the state, BHS focuses on five key areas: prevention, access, treatment, care management and recovery support services.

Regarded as national and local experts, BHS is the access point for leading-edge behavioral health and substance use treatment services that are customer-centered, community-based and align with best practices for connecting Milwaukee County youth and adults to a continuum of high-quality services that meet their immediate and long-term needs.

We invite you to learn about our history and our future.

Our Story

BHS has developed a series of videos to share the story of the organization’s rich history while highlighting the important work with community partners that has resulted in the redesign of Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health System and vision for the future of behavioral health services in Milwaukee County.

Chapter 1: The Early Days

Mike Lappen, administrator at BHS, and Jonathan Piel, unofficial historian at BHS, discuss behavioral health in Milwaukee County during the 1800s and the start of Behavioral Health Services (previously known as the Behavioral Health Division).

Chapter 2: The Beginnings of Community Care

Mike Lappen, administrator at BHS, and Jonathan Piel, unofficial historian at BHS, discuss the evolution of the Milwaukee County Mental Complex and emergency and crisis care in the 1970s.

Chapter 3: A Change in Course

Kathleen Eilers, former administrator at BHS, shares the development of the Community Support Program after the 1991 lawsuit challenging Milwaukee County’s lack of community-based services.


Chapter 4: A New Direction

Mike Lappen, administrator at BHS; Lauren Hubbard, RN and director of community crisis services at BHS; Diane Henneman, divisional vice president at Universal Health Services; Joy Tapper, executive director at Milwaukee Health Care Partnership and Brian McBride, director at Wraparound Milwaukee discuss the future for BHS and the transition to a community-based system of care.


1220 W. Vliet St.

Suite 301

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53205

Our Vision

Together, creating healthy communities.

Our Mission

Empowering safe, healthy, meaningful lives.

Our Values

Partnership, Respect, Integrity, 

Diversity, Excellence

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