Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, 1 in 100 adults in America live with Schizophrenia, and approximately 24% of state prisoners have a recent history of mental health issues. The facts and statistics are clear to see. Mental health is an apparent obstacle. And it is an issue that requires treatment beyond what each state is currently offering.


The Treatment Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization working to better mental health services across the United States. In their September 2017, Treat or Repeat Report, they graded each individual state on a letter grade scale. Unsurprising to most adults in the mental health field, Iowa received a D- grade. The report states that Iowa, “Does not prioritize forensic patients or inmates with severe mental illness.”


But the most substantial problem is the shortage of psychiatric beds. In fact, Iowa ranks dead last in all of the fifty states based on this huge shortage. Psychiatric beds are places where suicidal or potentially “dangerous” citizens can receive proper help, and have 24/7 supervision from professionals. So it is quite alarming to find out that Iowa only has 1.2 beds per 100,000 adults.


Katie Bell, a therapist at a local mental health agency says she sees about seventeen people per week. She primarily sees teenagers in residential treatment and says there’s simply not enough time for everyone. “We have a lot of kids who would benefit from longer periods of treatment time. Unfortunately, many of our residential kids are expected to be out of treatment within four to six months.”


Bell mentions, “The budget has also deprived kids who need one on one staff, or certain coping skills such as a weighted blanket because we lack the funds to provide them.”


While examining the budget for Iowa, Human Services receives the most money. Although when the costs are broken down, mental health doesn’t acquire enough funds. The two mental institutions in Iowa combined only receive 0.07% of the Human Services funding.


Anonymous family therapist at St. Luke’s Family Counseling sees the issues with mental health in the state but takes pride in the work that they do for others. “I do believe that the team I work with does the best job they can for each individual. They make sure that everyone receives the best treatment.”


One thing remains unanimous by mental health professionals. Reopen the two mental health institutions that have been closed, and create more opportunities for receiving help in rural areas. “Many people in rural areas have to travel one hour or more each direction to receive therapy and psychiatric care which is a huge barrier. For many, it’s the reason they are unable to reach out.”


It’s indisputable that mental health is a critical complication that needs to be improved. Iowa comes at the top of the list for places to live, job opportunities, and healthcare. Don’t you want Iowa to be at the top for mental health assistance too?


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