Support Mental Health Funding in Iowa
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If you keep in touch with the news to any degree, most of you will already know current Iowa funding for mental health is at absolute jeopardy. The current funding stream is barely scraping by to provide the most basic of services. In 2014, the state of Iowa ranked seventh in prevalence of mental illness and rates of access to care. Before we pat ourselves on the back, we must remember lower rank indicates LESS access to mental health funding, representative of the state population. Yes, you heard correctly.
As graduate students quickly entering the social work field, it's devastating to see what we are up against. Mental health trickles throughout absolutely every sector of social work. We have seen suicidal teenagers turned away due to bed shortages. We have adults suffering with mental illness living for YEARS in acute care institutions such as hospitals because they have nowhere to discharge safely. Everywhere we look, services are being cut and facilities are being closed. In 2015, Governor Branstad closed two of only four state mental health institutions within the state. WHY? He argued these facilities represented, "an outdated way of institutionalizing people with mental illnesses and private agencies could provide the same services more effectively and efficiently."
While we can agree individuals should be placed in the least restrictive level of care, we continue to ask...where are these "private agencies" exactly? Wherever they are, they certainly aren't working to minimize rates of emergency care for those with suicide attempts, psychosis, major depression, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, mania, and post-traumatic stress disorder- just to name a few. Nope. Instead, rates of acute care are actually trending upward.
As contributing members of our state, we have a responsibility to support those most vulnerable. From a social work perspective, we are doing so every single day. From a legislative perspective, it's not so clear. What we do know is if we continue to set mental health on the back burner, we'll spend the rest of our careers working to pick up the pieces.
Please consider signing the petition below to support continued funding for mental health.
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