Weaving Personal Stories into IA Mental-Health Policy Debates
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Iowa is considering proposals to address access issues for people seeking mental-health care. And it isn't just lobbyists meeting with lawmakers; more people are choosing to become first-time advocates and share their stories.
The pandemic shifted a bigger spotlight onto mental-health issues, and providers around the country report higher demand for services as people speak up about what they're going through. Jennifer Thompson of Des Moines recently met with policymakers and told them more about her struggles with bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
"I'm a dual-diagnosis patient, and it's huge for me to be able to say that," she said, "and I hope that I can be someone that other people can look at and say, 'Hey, if she can do it, I can do it, too.'"
Thompson took part in a "Day on the Hill," led by the Iowa chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI officials have said they hope lawmakers don't lose sight of the need to support mental-health services after they approved a major funding shift last year. To fill staffing voids, a bill this session would create dozens of psychiatric residencies at state facilities and care centers.
Amy Bassett of Urbandale said she decided to speak up after seeing mental health affect her husband and adult children for many years. In pushing for more residential-care services, she said there was suffering at times before her loved ones got the help they needed. Bassett said she wants to make sure that doesn't happen to other families.
"It fills my cup to be able to say, 'I can help others;' make it a little easier for them to get what they need," she said.
While she found the courage to engage with policymakers, Bassett said, other families may not get needed attention, even with greater awareness.
"There are lots of people out here really struggling," she said, "and just really need all we can to make their lives better."
In national rankings, Iowa is near the bottom in terms of psychiatrists per capita.
get more stories like this via email
Research is emerging about the secondary trauma school staff members face after helping students during the pandemic. As summer moves forward…
Health and Wellness
A Florida judge plans to put a hold on the state's new, 15-week abortion ban, set to take effect today. He said it is unconstitutional and will issue …
The Environmental Protection Agency now has fewer tools to fight climate change, after the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the agency of its authority to …
Three projects in Idaho have been selected to receive grants from the AARP Community Challenge. Among them is the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in …
Montanans get a sense of what soil health is like on farms and ranches across the state with Northern Plains Resource Council's soil crawls. The …
A new tool aims to help older adults in Arkansas and beyond who receive Medicare track what happens at their doctor appointments. It also can help …
A campaign in Maine is gathering signatures to replace the state's investor-owned energy grid with a consumer-owned utility. Central Maine Power (…
Another important U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month has been overshadowed by the controversy about overturning abortion rights. Legal experts say …