Children's Wisconsin Receives $15 Million Challenge for Mental Health

Children's Wisconsin Receives $15 Million Challenge for Mental Health

Milwaukee-based Children's Wisconsin has announced a $15 million challenge gift from a donor who prefers to remain anonymous.

The largest-ever gift to Children's Wisconsin will be used to match, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, gifts in support of the health system's $150 million commitment to address the mental and behavioral health needs of children in the state. Announced last November, the five-year effort is focused on diagnosing mental and behavioral health needs earlier, improving access to services, and reducing stigma around mental and behavioral health issues.

To that end, Children's Wisconsin has announced that it will work to expand screening systemwide for depression and anxiety regardless of the reason for the visit; create a hub for early childhood mental health; expand school-based mental and behavioral health programs statewide; offer integrated mental and behavioral health services in primary care offices and specialty clinics; launch a Therapist Fellowship Program to provide training and stipends to therapists working toward their master's degrees; establish a dedicated, fully staffed pediatric psychiatric assessment team in its emergency department; and improve inpatient and residential access and care through partnerships with other service providers in the state.

Previous gifts in support of the initiative include $5 million from Kohl's for systemwide screening, school-based programming, and mental health awareness efforts; $1 million from the Boldt Company to help fund the Therapist Fellowship Program; and $1 million from the Rexnord Foundation.

"The need is great for increased mental and behavioral health access," said Amy Herbst, vice president for mental and behavioral health at Children’s Wisconsin. "One in five kids in Wisconsin suffers from a mental health illness and almost half of those are not receiving treatment. This challenge gift will hopefully motivate the community to support these initiatives so kids can get the help they need."

(Photo credit: Children's Wisconsin)