Democratic Candidates: Iowa’s Mental Health Care in “Crisis”



Iowa has a crisis in mental health care. It was the consensus of three Democratic candidates for statewide office.

On Thursday evening, the National Association of Social Workers, the Iowa Chapter and the Grand View University Social Work Club held a town hall for the nominees for governor of Iowa and the United States Senate.

Each candidate and holder was invited to participate. Diedre DeJear participated as a candidate for governor. Bob Krause and Dr. Glenn Hurst were there as candidates for the US Senate.

Each candidate answered the same five questions about mental health care in Iowa from members of the Social Worker Association and Social Work Students at Grand View University.

All three highlighted access and finance as the biggest issues to be tackled.

Iowa ranks 44th in the mental health workforce available and 51st (including DC) in terms of the number of state psychiatric beds relative to citizens, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Iowa.

DeJear said the state should have more mental health beds, school mental health programs and mental health helplines for rural, urban and suburban communities. Everything would increase access.

To move forward on that, she said she will pursue stronger loan cancellation programs so that social workers don’t have to worry about student loans while they work. She also advocated increasing the reimbursement received by social workers.

“What I would also like to do is make sure that we promote and elevate this role because it is so integral to the work we do and it impacts every aspect of our life,” DeJear said.

She also mentioned the need to address the root causes of these problems by correcting disparities in the education system, health care and the economy.

“We have to come to terms with the root of this problem. And the root is the economy, the lack of access to health care, the lack of stability of our education system, ”she said. “These are the elements that perpetuate crises for individuals across this state. Let’s stop this.

Hurst insisted on changing the way we think about mental health and “getting the brain back into the body”. He said that too often people forget that mental illness is as physical as a broken bone.

“When we talk about mental health issues, it sounds like something that people should be able to get out of,” he said. “And it’s not the mental health issues. These are brain chemistry issues.

Hurst identified one of the biggest issues like high turnover and burnout in the field.

“Part of it has to do with the money,” he said. “Whether it’s funding your education or reimbursing for the services you provide, there is a huge problem there. “

Debt cancellation and a higher salary for people working in mental health care are important to consider, he said. He also said it should be easier for people to access services, so they don’t have to travel far or wait a long time for help.

Hurst suggested a universal health insurance model that includes mental health services as a means of providing care to everyone in the country.

Former state official Bob Krause linked his responses to his experiences working with veterans. He also stressed the need to have more staff, to be available 24 hours a day and to make it possible for claimants to find employment as easily as possible.

The key to achieving this, he said, is to have standard licensing requirements so people can serve anywhere, and a comprehensive national framework for providing mental health care.

“What we need is a comprehensive mental health care law that will put pressure on the need for new health professionals and the delivery of health care services,” he said. .

by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted on 01/09/22



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