Watch: Gov. Evers announces $2 million for mental health services in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE (WKBT) — Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday that the state will spend $2 million to support mental and behavioral health services for underserved communities, including Hmong and Southeast Asian Wisconsinites. He made the announcement in Eau Claire this morning, right before touring Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association building.

The investment will help fund the Wisconsin United Coalition of Mutual Assistance Association, Inc., and its Project Resiliency initiative.

“WUCMAA has been doing critically important work in communities across our state—especially as the past year and a half has been difficult for so many, particularly communities that have long been underserved,” said Evers. “I am glad today to join WUCMAA in this important work to expand the Project Resiliency initiative, combat the cycle of trauma, address disparities in health, and ensure Hmong and Southeast Asian communities have the resources and opportunity to recover from this pandemic and all the mental and behavioral health challenges that have come with it.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will contract with WUCMAA to provide specific culturally sensitive services beyond the department’s capacity and expertise while providing periodic financial and programmatic reports to DHS.

“WUCMAA is thrilled to receive this funding to elevate and continue the important statewide mental health work of our member organizations,” said WUCMAA Interim Executive Director Mang Xiong. “We are grateful for the continued support and partnership with the Governor’s office and DHS to serve the needs of our Southeast Asian community in Wisconsin.”

Evers acknowledged the strength of the Hmong community and the unique challenges it faces. There are nearly 60,000 Hmong people in the state. The group had higher rates of unemployment and poverty that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hmong community also reported a notable increase in racism and xenophobia following the pandemic.

According to WUCMAA, traumas predating the pandemic have been compounded by recent hateful rhetoric and actions, resulting in mental and behavioral health crises that have led to depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide in Hmong and Southeast Asian communities. In response, WUCMAA launched the Project Resiliency initiative to create a central hub of resources for Hmong and Southeast Asian mental and behavioral health for individuals, families, and providers.

Watch the event live on the News 8 Now Facebook page.

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