I recently read an article in the Ottumwa Courier entitled, "City's concentration of power concerning." It was an interesting article, and seemed to point out a very problematic issue with the way our current administration, council, and Mayor have handled particular situations as of late. What I'd like to point out, is the last line of this article. It read, "We are deeply concerned by the trend we see emerging from City Hall." My question to you is, are you? The Couriers editorial board freely choose to endorse both of the recently elected City Council members. Both of which are tied directly, and indirectly to this administration and Mayor. One has openly stated to have a close personal relationship to our Mayor. The other, a re-elected incumbent, not only publicly defended the actions that your article raises concerns over, but in my opinion acted with current sitting council members and other administration members to quietly cover those actions up. It would seem, that if you were truly concerned by this emerging trend, you would have made your concerns publicly known before our city election took place.
Editor’s note: The Courier has done several editorials this year raising similar questions to the one in Thursday’s paper. In fact, the editorial in which the Courier announced its endorsements (“Voters should pick Meyers, Roe,” A6, 10/29/19) noted the editorial board’s reservations about each of the candidates. For details about how the editorial board selected the candidates for endorsements, see the secondary editorial in that edition (“How we made our decision”). The Courier stands behind the board member’s endorsements.
I am reaching out to bring awareness to the current state of mental health care in Iowa. I have been an Iowan my entire life, I am very proud of our state and the values our residents hold dear. However, when it comes to mental health care, Iowa is far behind the national average. Iowa currently ranks 44th in trained professional availability and 51st nationwide in psychiatric beds per capita.
I am a BHIS provider; this title means that I am a behavioral health intervention service provider. I work with teens and children under the age of 18, along with their families, in their homes to teach coping skills and intervention techniques for a variety of mental health diagnoses. One night my visit to a family occurred during a breaking point in that child’s life. The authorities were called and the child was taken to their local ER for medical intervention. The child was observed and eventually released the next morning due to a lack of openings in the state for a bed at a psychiatric facility. While sad, this outcome should come as no surprise. According to the NAMI website, there are only 730 private and public inpatient beds available statewide to assist the estimated 123,000 Iowans suffering from a mental illness. Instead of giving this family the help they sought, the child’s mother was told to lock up all items in the home that could be a threat to their safety and continue with therapy in an outpatient setting.
In what reality is it okay to knowingly send a person home when they pose a danger to themselves and others? If this child was to hurt themself or another after being released, where does the blame lie? Most would be quick to point a finger at the mother. Some would want to blame the hospital. I am inclined to not point fingers, but rather ask our state government when they will make mental health funding a real priority.
I urge anyone affected by mental illness, or those that have a desire to see a change to write our local representatives and demand positive changes take place. The quality of life for thousands of Iowa children and their families are at stake as long as we continue to turn a blind eye to mental health care. Please help make a difference by making our voices heard.