DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) – Legislators in Iowa are serious about mental health.
You passed a bill this month that greatly improves Iowa's mental health system.
People who have been fighting for these changes for years hope that this is only the beginning.
This bill will essentially create more opportunities and access for the thousands of Iowans suffering from mental illness.
For years, Iowa's mental health system has been criticized for not doing enough. Now the advocates are happy to finally see progress.
The Iowa chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses (NAMI) says the new legislation will finally help some of the most vulnerable Iowa. The bill calls for at least six regional centers across the state to improve access for mentally ill Iowans.
"We need a place where they can get medical care if they do not need medical treatment They need a mental disorder and are in crisis, with people who know and understand how to deal with it", said Peggy Huppert, Executive Director of NAMI Iowa. "The vision is that no one is more than 90 minutes away from this kind of facility."
The bill will increase the number of treatment teams that ensure that the needs of patients 1
law enforcement agencies – such as the Sheriff Office Polk County – have also spoken out for changes. They say the regional centers will help them to save money and labor.
"You can have a mental health patient on one side of the state with a hearing on the other side of the state, and you have to take the time to pick her, take her to her hearing, go back to the other one Side of the state, let it off, and it's a full charge, "said Lt. Richard Blaylock with the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
But, more importantly, it will release the deputies who help these patients.
"It will ease their workload and they can actually do more for more people," Lt. Blaylock.
At the moment, NAMI Iowa is primarily concerned with making sure the state will actually fund these new facilities. NAMI says this is a great first step, but they are not stopping here. These mental health improvements affect adult patients. They say they are working now so children can get the same care.
Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the bill on Thursday morning in the Statehouse.
View the original story on the WOI website.