When Chrissy Barnard faced a mental health crisis and most needed care, law enforcement handcuffed her, placed her in the back of a patrol car and drove her five hours to Wisconsin’s only state-run mental health facility for the general public.

Barnard remembers the patrol car’s cold seats. She would eventually have her shoes confiscated, presumably so she couldn’t hang herself with the laces.

Chrissy Barnard

Chrissy Barnard, photographed in Superior, Wis., on Dec. 8, 2022. Barnard is a peer support specialist with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Wisconsin. She's among many voices calling on lawmakers to overhaul a gap-riddled emergency mental health system that she said poorly served her and many others during crises.

Winnebago Mental Health Institute

Sherman Hall at Winnebago Mental Health Institute near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is shown in a promotional video produced by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The institute is Wisconsin’s only state-run psychiatric hospital open to the general public.