Left Behind: An Evaluation of Mental Health Programming in Iowa
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SubjectMental health; Mental health court; Crisis services; Funding; Jail diversion; Mental health professionals
The State of Iowa has made momentous changes to programing for individuals with mental health needs. Despite all of the changes to date, there is still significant room for improvement, especially in areas of funding and promoting psychiatrists to come to rural areas. Polk County has implemented jail diversion and crisis programing to reduce the recidivism rate of individuals with chronic mental health needs. A pilot mental health court has been established in Black Hawk County, but lacks support from crisis programing and jail diversion like that offered by Polk County. In order for a county to have successful mental health programing, a combination of crisis programing, jail diversion, mental health court and home based supports must work in tandem. Despite the efforts of State and Federal legislation, no programing can be successful if it is not properly funded through sustainable and expandable sources. Currently providers are not able to receive adequate reimbursement for the services they provide, creating a shortfall of available services. The true costs of the system are currently being shadowed by ineffective services, leading to incarceration and/or hospitalization of clients. Until a true holistic approach is adopted, marrying services and funding, individuals with mental health concerns will continue to be left behind.