Sweeping redesign of state’s mental health services policy underway

Wyoming is redesigning how it provides behavioral health services, and while most of the details are still to be determined, it seems clear fewer people will qualify for state-funded treatment. The upshot, however, according to advocates, is that by focusing scarce resources on those who need help the most, the state can prevent expensive and painful cycles of institutionalization and family breakups.

House Bill 38-Community behavioral health-priority populations passed during the 2021 legislative session, requires the Wyoming Department of Health to reconsider the state-funded mental health and substance abuse system.

Wyoming pays for many mental health and substance abuse services provided through a network of community behavioral health centers. In recent years the state put about $44 million annually into such programs, but demand for services consistently outstripped funding and supply. Then budgeters reduced mental health funding by $7.5 million annually — roughly 17%.That reduction was put in place Thursday, the first day of the fiscal year.

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