That’s the only way to describe the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex, which was built in the 1970s. According to today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Medicaid law passed in the 1960s restricted funding for mental health to smaller, community based facilities. The article cited Pittsburgh as an example of a community that made the transition to smaller, neighborhood based assistance and putting a priority on housing.

Even long-term mental patients have been able to thrive in the community with adequate supports. That has happened in Milwaukee, too. So, why was the hospital built knowing that it would not be eligible for federal reimbursements?  Why won’t private hospitals provide the care that people with acute mental health symptoms require? And where did the pressure come from to build another mental health facility that would fall outside of federal guidelines?

Housing is cited as a need for being able to move into the community but when the rent for supported housing reaches into a high percentage of a person’s income, can we call that affordable housing? The County could have taken an important step toward the future by approving funding to develop a north side Crisis Resource Center. This makes me wonder why there is a failure in the system and is the problem a lack of  political will. What do you think?

There is a lot more that I could say about this issue which I am interested in from a personal stand point and as a mental health advocate. It seems to me there is a disconnect from the policies that are advocated, the glowing reports of progress from the Behavioral Health Division and the outcomes that  Milwaukee County residents experience.

It can be exhausting and frustrating to advocate  for people who are living with a mental illness in Milwaukee County because they are caught between an overload due to the reluctance of private hospitals to care for persons having acute conditions and the mental health complex. One wonders, is there any place in Milwaukee County for people with a mental illness?

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