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Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative

The ABHI powered by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment (AHW) connected community members in 10 regions throughout the state to resources for improving mental health in their communities. It has been an eight-year, $20 million commitment to advance mental and behavioral health outcomes throughout the state. Hear directly about lessons learned by each ABHI partner community on the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment ABHI page.
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The Behavioral Health Strategy Guide showcases work conducted by the Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative (ABHI) with practicable suggestions and actionable insights to improve behavioral health in Wisconsin communities. The key details of the strategies developed by 10 community coalitions are shared here to further their mission of raising awareness, reducing stigma, and building capacity to create sustainable change.

A Message from the Academic Partner Team:

If you are interested in improving the mental and behavioral health of your community, we encourage you to build upon these lessons learned from 8 years of work in urban, rural, and tribal communities across all corners of the state.

Now more than ever, our families, neighbors, and friends are facing unprecedented challenges and there are no easy fixes. Behavioral and mental health lie at an intersection of several complex systems such as health care, community support systems, schools, public health, and law enforcement. The successes of the ABHI demonstrate that true change is possible when systems, organizations, and people with lived experience come together with common goals. From elementary schools and community centers to office spaces and places of worship, the 10 community coalitions purposefully built upon the existing strengths and unique culture of their communities. Thanks to the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment’s significant investment, the coalitions had time to build the relationships required to ensure that the work continues.

Mental and behavioral health affects everyone. We hope this Strategy Guide will further inspire and empower all Wisconsinites to realize the impact they can have by working together and learning from each other.

The academic partner team consists of faculty and staff from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. The MCW Partner Team worked with each of the 10 community coalitions to provide evaluation support and guidance to each community as they worked to develop broader systems-level change that reduce fragmentation and result in durable, integrated and sustained improvement in behavioral health outcomes statewide.

The Academic Partner team was led by Dr. Michelle Broaddus. Contributing faculty members include Dr. Julia Dickson-Gomez, Dr. Carol Galletly, Dr. Laura Glasman, Dr. Jeffrey Kelly, Dr. Katherine Quinn, and Dr. Jennifer Walsh; contributing staff members include Kevin Brown, Olivia Algiers, and Noel Rosado.


AHW united 10 communities from across Wisconsin in a coalition-led initiative to address the unique mental and behavioral health needs in each region. The initiative is uniquely structured, as it involves three phases. Beginning with a learning and planning phase, the initiative was followed by a five-year implementation phase, and capped by two-years to support sustainability efforts.

The 10 regional coalitions worked with the belief that it is possible to transform how communities support the mental and behavioral health of their residents. The ABHI has organized the work of these coalitions in one place in order for communities throughout the state to follow-suit and implement successful strategies that have proven to benefit mental health and support meaningful change in Wisconsin.

It is AHW changemaking in action, propelling promising work and ideas for a healthier Wisconsin today, and for generations to come. 

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Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Coalitions


Recognizing the impact mental health has on a community, the coalitions documented their work for others to replicate long past the grant’s lifetime. By providing the core components, challenges faced and best practices of their strategies, each coalition contributes to sharing valuable information that enhances collaboration, learning, and further innovation in the field of mental and behavioral health. These strategies are not only intended for replication, but also refinement and improvement based on new insights and lessons learned within each unique community’s implementation. With the ultimate goal of transforming the way communities support and treat mental and behavioral health, the coalitions documented their most successful strategies ultimately designed to ensure all community members can experience fulfilling, rewarding, and healthy lives.

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ABHI Learning Community

In addition to investing directly in 10 community coalitions, they also supported these coalitions and the Academic Partner Team to come together in a Learning Community. In the first year, the Learning Community met every month to learn from consultant Paul Schmitz and each other about how to develop their coalitions and plan strategies. The Learning Community continued to meet quarterly throughout the 5 years of strategy implementation and the 2 years of dissemination and sustainability efforts to support skill building, peer support, expert training, and collaborative work. The Learning Community traveled to each community to learn more about local culture and hear directly from community members.
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Contact Us

For more information on the Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative, contact the Medical College of Wisconsin Principal Investigator, Michelle Broaddus, PhD, by filling out the form below. We will be in touch.