Wisconsin Chapter 51 helping mental health patients

When responding to an emergency crisis, it is often hard for officers to determine whether the person is acting out because of a mental health issue. But, county officials say, using Wisconsin Chapter 51 can be incredibly beneficial.

“The best thing about a Chapter 51 is that they can get those services and they can get them quicker than an average basis,” said Paige Wandling, a social worker at Gundersen Health System. “Community members can get established with outside support.”

Wisconsin Chapter 51 is the ability for law enforcement or outside parties to force a person to be treated by medical professionals.

“Those are usually as a result of 911 calls related to family members or citizens in the community or law enforcement themselves..having concerns that an individual may be suffering from mental health issues are requires imminent care and treatment,” said Amy Flottmeyer, of the County Corporation Council.

They’re seen by many different doctors, including psychiatrists, social workers, behavioral health specialists, and recreational therapists.

And here in La Crosse County;

“For folks that have mental health issues that’s primarily what it’s utilized for,” said Flottmeyer.

Getting an individual committed can take time, and if they want a hearing for being committed, it can take up to 14 days after the initial detention.

“Involvement, treatment, team involvement, so getting the staff here at Gundersen and along with the county all on the same page really helps for the patient to succeed on an outpatient basis,” said Wandling.

Wandling said the outlook can be bright for most patients.

“Most of them are integrated back into society for outpatient care,” said Wandling.