It’s not our imagination.
Iowa’s mental health system is in crisis.
Iowans with critical needs are being ignored. Sometimes with fatal results. This is what 47th in the nation looks like, and few people with the power to do something about it, seem interested at all.
If this was cancer, heart disease, drunk driving, or any other public health crisis, there would be shouts and cries to do something.
Mental illness doesn’t even get the outcry school shootings do, though no one does anything with any impact about those either.
More mental health treatment could prevent some school shootings, though the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent at all, but are more likely to be victims of violence.
In 2012, Iowa undertook a redesign of its mental health program. It was supposed to fix inequities in available care among counties. However, the redesign did not come with a mandate to increase the available beds and staff to care for people with acute mental crises.
For example, my county, Emmet, is in a region called County Social Services. It encompasses 19 counties across the northern third of the state.
Unlike other regions, there is no mobile response team, no crisis stabilization in community, no sub-acute services available to our residents.
We are hemorrhaging, and they’re coming to us with miniature bandaids.