Milwaukee County allocates ARPA funding to expand accessible youth mental health services

NOW: Milwaukee County allocates ARPA funding to expand accessible youth mental health services

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Local leaders are turning more attention towards mental health, and creating positive outcomes through accessible healthcare.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley signed a resolution Tuesday, allocating more than $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to expand mental health services.

More than $200,000 will go to the Walker's Point Youth and Family Center, and more than $400,000 to City on a Hill for behavior health services.

It's an investment in mental health, during a crisis fueled further by the pandemic.

"They've been working with the county, but the missing piece was the dollars. So now, this really puts the program into action," said Ricardo Diaz, the co-chair of Milwaukee County's ARPA Task Force.

The Walker's Point Youth and Family Center provides shelter, counseling, and resources to young people in crisis.

Their two existing licensed professional counselors often have a waiting list.

"We recognize that the need is out there in the communities," said Megan O'Halloran, director of communication for WPYFC.

The new funding allows them to hire two more counselors that will work in the community; one who speaks Spanish, and one focused on LGBTQ+ youth.

"We see those disparities in those populations, and we see the stigma in those populations. Sometimes people are just afraid," said Shakita LaGrant-McClain, Executive Director of the county's Department of Health and Human Services.

The resolution aims to provide accessible mental healthcare to prevent future conflict.

"It's making sure that we meet people earlier, before they end up on the deeper end of the system," LaGrant-McClain said.

With mental health ranking as the top health issue for Milwaukee County residents, the resolution's vision is that healthier lives lead to healthier communities.

"The impact that you see is a community where we are working together," LaGrant-McClain said, "We can have a community where people are not afraid to step outside on their porches, where we can have kids go outside and play in their neighborhoods, and we don't have the shooting and violence that we're seeing."

Applications are already posted for the two new licensed professional counselor positions.

For more information on Walker's Point Youth and Family Center, click here.

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