Mental Health

This is one of our greatest human services challenges and it is going to take heavy lifting on both short and long term solutions. Iowa ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to the number of available inpatient psychiatric beds, per percentage of population. The closure of the mental health institutes in 2015 exacerbated the problem and unfortunately our current representative sided with then Governor Branstad on this decision. Not only does Iowa not have enough beds, but we don’t have the right kind of beds for the patients who need them, which means people are stuck because there is nowhere else to go. Essentially, we have a continuum of care problem. And on top of that, Iowa has virtually no system for children, where the greatest needs are crisis and school-based services. Fundamentally, we need a long term funding fix because counties are getting to the point where they cannot fund core services or crisis situations. The legislature must make changes to the mental health levy to start to address this problem. Additionally, we need to build the mental health workforce because there simply aren’t enough providers in Iowa. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI Iowa) there are only 316 providers that prescribe psychiatric medications and only 146 ARNPs that specialize in psychiatry in the entire state. Some hospitals, including Broadlawns here in Polk County, are starting psychiatry residency programs, which I fully support.