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Mental health has a big topic in the news of late. How much of a role does mental health play in mass shootings? In light of the Newtown tragedy, the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) (www.eapassn.org) recently joined a petition for improved mental health services.

Now, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said Monday he plans to move all long-term care patients at the Mental Health Complex into community care within three years.

 Though such transition planning has already begun, it was the first time Abele committed to a specific deadline for the shift.

Able also plans to continue efforts to move acute psychiatric patients into community programs, and said he was optimistic Milwaukee County would get a significant share of the nearly $30 million Gov. Scott Walker announced last week he plans to pour into mental health care.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the hospital has about 150 patients remaining in its two long-term care units, after beginning the transfer process last year.

“We will move as quickly as possible, with our many partners in the community, to create capacity . . . so that people with mental health issues can live close to their families and friends with a person-centered, recovery-oriented approach to their wellness,” Abele said in his annual “state of the county” speech delivered at the Oak Creek municipal courtroom.

Abele said the shift was not prompted by “any incident, employee or concern regarding quality of care.” However, his push follows five patient deaths at the Mental Health Complex last year, as well as 19 reported patient sexual assaults there since 2011.

The complete story is on the Journal Sentinel’s website – www.jsonline.com.

What do you think about Abele’s plan?  Should it be replicated in other communities? Share this news item via one of the drop-down options directly below.