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La Crosse Group Receives $1.5M To Improve Mental Health Services

Nonprofit Hopes To Increase Communication Among Providers

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A nonprofit organization in La Crosse will recieve $1.5 million to increase collaboration among the community’s mental health services.

The La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium will begin the eight-year grant project in July, working to increase communication between existing programs.

Catherine Kolkmeier, the organization’s executive director, said there are many mental health services in the community but because the providers are disconnected, it’s hard for people to find the right resources.

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“There’s not always the communication between (providers) that needs to happen,” Kolkmeier said. “There are so many programs that it’s difficult to find the right path to get through to get the services that you need.”

With the new grant money, the consortium hopes to create a common assessment tool for providers to use, making it easier for referrals across agencies.

Kolkmeier said the group also hopes to promote alternative places to seek help, such as faith-based organizations or within school systems.

“Not everyone needs the care of a psychiatrist or a psychologist,” Kolkmeier said. “There is a lot that can be done with improving people’s mental health just at the day-to-day, person-to-person level.”

The La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium is a partnership between Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, Gundersen Health System, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Viterbo University, Western Technical College, the School District of La Crosse and the La Crosse County Health Department.

Kolkmeier said the group’s collaborative nature made them an ideal partner for inspiring more communication between mental health services.

“We don’t represent one organization over the other and we can be that common meeting ground for all of our partner organizations as well as other community organizations around the region,” Kolkmeier said.

La Crosse is one of 10 communities awarded the “Changemaker Grant” from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment. Other regions receiving funding include Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Lac Du Flambeau.

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