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Mental Health
Thursday, October 02, 2008

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National Depression Screening Day

Lt. Governor Lawton leads the largest observane of National Depression Screening Day
Lt. Governor Lawton is proud to offer a free, anonymous online depression screening.

It's estimated that as many as one million people in Wisconsin live with depression. This impacts their daily lives, their families, their ability to work, and their productivity. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2007, Lt. Governor Lawton led Wisconsin’s largest-ever observance of National Depression Screening Day , hosting events in Madison and Green Bay.

Click below to access a free, anonymous depression screening hosted by Mental Health America - Wisconsin.

 

Click here to take a simple, anonymous depression screening.

 

Hundreds gather at the Capitol to demand mental health parityMental Health Parity Action Day

On February 20, 2008 nearly 600 citizens, representing every legislative district in Wisconsin, joined Lt Governor Barbara Lawton at Mental Health Parity Day to help their elected representatives understand the economic importance of enacting mental health parity now.

Mental health parity ensures that insurance benefits provided for mental illnesses are covered at the same level set for the treatment of physical illnesses. Those visiting the capitol on Mental Health Parity Action Day advocated passage of Senate Bill 375, sponsored by Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Sheryl Albers (R-Reedsburg).

“Mental health parity is an effective strategy to increase the size, productivity and retention of our workforce,” Lawton said.  “And with it, we reduce absenteeism and employee medical costs.”

Lt. Gov. Lawton, Sen. Hansen and Rep. Albers addressed the enthusiastic crowd in a midday rally under the dome of the State Capitol.

Unfortunately, the state bill did not receive a public hearing in then Republican-controlled Assembly.  However, this groundswell grassroots network compelled action at the federal level in October of 2008 resulting in a new federal Mental Health Parity law.

Click here to read more about mental health parity

Click here to see more photos from the day

 

Mental Health Task Force

 

Lt. Gov. Lawton speaks at the training session in the morningLieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton responded to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s ranking of Wisconsin as 48th out of 50 states in the number of poor mental health days experienced by women by convening a high level Task Force on Women and Depression in 2005.

 

Lieutenant Governor Lawton recognizes that untreated mental illness, and depression specifically, has far-reaching implications for all Wisconsin citizens.  Not one of us is more than one degree removed from someone who has suffered at least an episode of mental illness, and the economic impact on employers and on the state as a whole is significant.

 

Those suffering from depression are seven times more likely to be unemployed or underemployed.  Medical costs of depressed persons average twice those who are non-depressed.  And educational achievement and earnings are significantly compromised.

 

The good news is that depression and many other mental illnesses are highly treatable and can, in many cases be prevented.  The task force report creates a roadmap to progress in this critical area of medicine that has been too long misunderstood, sidelined for its complexity and for the old-fashioned prejudices, born of misunderstanding, that have attached to mental illness.  
 

Click here to read and download the Lt. Governor’s Task Force report in PDF form.

 

A  new statewide coalition of government agencies, private sector employers, health care practitioners, academic experts and consumer advocates now work to put those recommendations into action. Their number one priority, an economic development strategy for our state, is to enact mental health parity in Wisconsin as a way to build a better workforce.

 

Lt. Governor Lawton serves as Honorary Chair of Wisconsin United for Mental Health.