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Mental Health: Care and Coverage

Services for mental health concerns are delivered in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, homes, and other community locations. 

Treatment is effective. Recovery is possible.

We supervise Wisconsin's public mental health system. Wisconsin's 72 counties are responsible for delivering services and providing for the well-being, treatment, and care of individuals living with mental health concerns. This often is done in partnership with community-based agencies and organizations.

Private practice professionals licensed by the state also provide care and treatment to people living with mental health conditions.

Who is a mental health professional?

  • Someone who can help people get relief from mental health conditions, and find ways to improve mental wellness and resiliency.
  • They may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychiatric nurse, or counselor with mental health training.

How can a mental health professional help?

  • If you feel unhappy, depressed, anxious, fearful, moody, or in need of emotional help, a mental health professional can help you to understand your problems and to feel better.
  • They have specialized training to identify and understand problems that may be causing you discomfort or putting you at risk.
  • They also have specialized training in helping people with a variety of mental health conditions.
  • If you need it, they can prescribe medicine, or can connect you with someone who can determine whether you need medication.
  • They are trained to offer an objective, independent viewpoint.
  • They can help you to connect with other professionals and specialists, if needed.

Need help navigating the mental health system? Check out NAMI Wisconsin's guide to mental health services.

Three steps to accessing care

  1. Contact your health insurer. Ask about your coverage and whether they have a network of preferred providers for you to use. Get more information on paying for health care in Wisconsin.
  2. Review the websites of the providers and see if they have the four signs of quality treatment detailed below.
  3. Call for an appointment. 

Help is available, if you have:

  • Been denied insurance coverage.
  • Reached a limit on your plan (for example, copayments, deductibles, yearly visits).
  • Have an overly large copay or deductible.


Know Your Rights: Parity for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits (PDF)
This brochure from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides an overview of what health plans must cover regarding mental health and substance use services.

Understanding Parity: A Guide to Resources for Families and Caregivers (PDF)
This booklet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides an overview of what health plans must cover regarding mental health and substance use services.

Four signs of quality treatment

Use these questions to help decide about the quality of a treatment provider and the types of services offered. Quality programs should offer a full range of services accepted as effective in treatment and recovery from mental health conditions and should be matched to a person’s needs.

  • Accreditation: Has the program been licensed or certified by the state? Is the program currently in good standing in the state? Are the staff qualified? Good quality programs will have a good inspection record and both the program and the staff should have received training in treatment of mental health conditions and be licensed or registered in the state. Does the program conduct satisfaction surveys? Can they show you how people using their services have rated them?
  • Evidence-based practices: Does the program offer treatments that have been proven to be effective in treating mental health conditions, such as motivational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and peer support? Does the program either provide or help to obtain medical care for physical health issues?
  • Families: Does the program include family members in the treatment process? Family members have an important role in understanding the impact of a mental health condition on families and providing support.
  • Supports: Does the program provide ongoing treatment and supports beyond just treating the mental health condition? For many people a mental illness is a chronic condition and requires ongoing medication and supports. Quality programs provide treatment for the long term which may include ongoing counseling or recovery coaching and support, and helps in meeting other basic needs like housing, employment supports, and continued family involvement.

Find help

If this is an emergency and you need help now, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

You can also call 211 to learn about mental health services available near you.

Know your rights

There are rules to ensure your privacy and dignity are protected when receiving services for a mental health concern. Learn more about Wisconsin's client rights law.

Last revised December 19, 2023