Wyoming's Mental Health Care Crisis

Credit wyomingmedicalcenter.org

Every year in Wyoming hundreds of people are detained by law enforcement and treated against their will for mental health issues. The system that regulates this treatment is known as “Title 25”. It doesn’t come up much in the news, but for those who provide or need mental health services in the state it's a matter of growing concern. The state budgeted 5 million dollars to pay for Title 25 this year and next year: current projections say the actual cost will be around 16 million dollars, and that doesn’t include the millions that individual counties will spend. Those costs correspond to more people moving through the system: the number of Title 25 patients has gone up 50 percent in the last three years.

Wyoming Public Radio spent months looking into how Title 25 works in the state. What we found was a system that did not communicate effectively and was slow to adapt to the needs of individual counties and of people detained and treated against their will. That has led to ballooning costs and substandard care for many people, especially those who live in rural counties. The Title 25 system has also done too little to keep people from going through the process over and over again.

Wyoming's Mental Health Crisis By the Numbers:

Ways to Connect

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Title 25 program is $13 million dollars over budget and a group of legislators and others were told this week that reforms and policy changes are needed to slow down that spending. 

Title 25 covers court ordered hospitalizations for mental health and substance abuse patients. The state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to house those who need services, so the state has to pay private providers for that care. Natrona, Fremont, and Sweetwater County are driving the costs.  

Miles Bryan

  

A Wyoming legislative committee recommended approval of a major reform to the state’s system for dealing with people involuntarily detained in a mental health crisis Monday night.

The system is known as “Title 25.” The bill approved by the committee  would give courts the ability to order people to undergo outpatient treatment; right now they can usually only order forced hospitalization, or let the patient go.

Miles Bryan

Part 4 of our Title 25 series. Listen to the entire series here.

Janell Hanson and her son Adrian live in a sunny house just steps away from the historic Ivinson Mansion in Laramie. Their house is gorgeous--it’s actually older than the mansion. But on the day WPR visited, the beautiful oak front door was marred by a hole in its stained glass panel, temporarily sealed with duct tape.

Miles Bryan

Part 3 of our Title 25 series. Read Part 4 here.

Jodi Glover is exhausted. She usually is by the end of the day. Glover works two full time jobs: one as a doctor’s assistant in Cody, the other as the caregiver to her twenty year old son, who was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia.

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Part 1 in our Title 25 series. Read Part 2 here.

If you want to get the full picture of how the Title 25 process works in Wyoming you need to talk to Chel Bleckler. That’s because she spent over a decade working in an E.R. in Cody, where a big part of her job was working with Title 25 patients.

Miles Bryan

Part 2 in our Title 25 series. Read Part 3 here.

The Cloud Peak Counseling Center in Worland looks more like a nursing home than a psychiatric hospital. It’s a small building with murals on the walls and a game room with leather couches. In fact it isn’t technically a hospital at all.