Iowa lawmakers propose bill to improve access to mental health treatment

Iowa lawmakers propose bill to improve access to mental health treatment

Iowa lawmakers have come up with a new legislation intended to expand people’s access to mental health services in the state. The bill proposes to establish six new access centers, allowing “24/7, no eject, no reject secure facilities” for people battling mental health problems. The six centers would be built in a way that every Iowan can access the facility within 90 minutes.

The bill — Senate File 2252 — is based on the recommendations of Complex Service Needs Workgroup Report released in December 2017. Peggy Huppert, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) branch in Iowa, has viewed the crisis centers as an effective alternative to emergency rooms or jails. “They could be evaluated and stabilized, and they could stay for a period of time; there would be beds attached to it, and then they would be referred on to the appropriate level of care,” said Huppert.

Furthermore, the bill would entrust 14 mental health care regions in Iowa with developing effective strategies to implement these centers. The legislation was well received by both Republicans and Democrats. However, the proposal lacks in making an estimate for setting up and running these facilities.

Senator Joe Bolkcom called the bill a good beginning in the line of addressing the mental health crisis in the country. He, however, emphasized on the need of fund raising. “I think it’s also important we make sure the state make the investment needed to actually see these services in place,” he said. A part of the requisite funding, as Bolkcom suggested, would come from property taxes in each region. He asked the state to arrange for another portion.

In addition, the lawmakers also proposed two important bills to give more powers to courts and law enforcement authorities to deal with cases related to mental health care. One of the bills — Senate File 2212 — would focus on increasing courts’ powers to award treatment for people with serious mental health issues and those with a history of lack of compliance with medical care. Another bill — Senate File 2250 – is aimed at allowing tracking of people involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness. The law would mandate the hospital to notify the person’s family if he or she leaves hospital without authorization. The bill would also allow authorities to track the cell phone of the patient.

Mental illnesses cripple US

Mental health problems affect an individual’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior. Such conditions may occur occasionally or can have a long-lasting effect on one’s ability to function in their day-to-day activities. As per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the U.S. is home to an estimated 44.7 million adults, including 10.4 million suffering from a serious psychiatric disorder, with any mental illness (AMI). Ironically, only 19.2 million people could access mental health services in 2016.

The statistics suggest a huge gap between people needing medical care for mental health problems and those who actually received treatment for the same. Therefore, more awareness programs need to be planned and executed to encourage people with different types of mental health problems and addiction issues to seek professional treatment. It is important to treat mental disorders like physical problems and to get over the associated stigma.

Federal and state governments as well as communities should work together to help their citizens recover from mental health problems. If you know someone experiencing any kind of mental disorder, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. Our trained counselors will help you avail 247 mental health treatment at one of the best rehab centers. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online to know more about the best 247 mental health treatment center near you.