Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced an $865,000 budget increase Tuesday that would go toward mental health and addiction services. 

Parisi’s proposal added to the existing initiative that put 63.5 million into treatment centers across Dane county. Parisi’s initiative focuses on decreasing the stigma around seeking help with mental illness.

The 2020 budget includes $20,000 to create the “End Death by Despair Coalition.” 

The coalition focuses on bringing together Dane County health care systems, criminal justice officials, K12 and higher education teachers, non profit leaders and human service providers to spread awareness and combat these issues. 

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The American Psychological Association reported a 30% increase in the rate of death by suicide from 2000 to 2016. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America, with 47,173 suicides and 1,400,000 suicide attempts in 2017.

Another effort by Dane County to combat the stigmas surrounding mental illness is a $500,000 grant program designed to aid community efforts in supporting programs for addiction and mental health issues. The grant, named the CJ Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing, and Recovery honors the son of county Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs. 

Earlier this year, Tubbs’ son passed away at the age of 32 due to an overdose caused by marijuana laced with fentanyl. Tubbs’ son had also dealt with mental health issues throughout his life.

“Often people feel ashamed,” Parisi said. “There should be no shame in mental illness or addiction. Anyone who needs help should be granted the necessary resources.”

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The Wisconsin Voices for Recovery is a leader in the efforts to increase treatment and recovery support. Their project ED2 Recovery helps to provide a peer support system for those fighting addiction.

ED2, with the help of Parisi’s proposal, aims to construct a network of support systems across Dane County and eventually the state of Wisconsin. 

“Everyone must step up to do their part, the private sector, health care providers, teachers and parents,” Parisi said.