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Iowa boosts mental health support

Iowa boosts mental health support

By Andi Anderson

In response to a critical shortage of mental health professionals in Iowa, the state has taken proactive steps through the Mental Health First Aid initiative.

More than a million Iowans live in areas lacking sufficient mental health services. To tackle this, Mental Health First Aid programs have been deployed to train individuals in recognizing mental health issues and effectively assisting those in need.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach plays a key role in this initiative, offering training sessions to adults in various settings, including workplaces and schools.

The program focuses on identifying risk factors and warning signs of mental health issues, providing practical strategies for assisting people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

David Brown, a behavioral health state specialist at ISU Extension and Outreach, highlighted the importance of this training, noting, “Iowa is 45th in the nation as far as mental health providers per capita,” he said. “It’s important for Iowans to be willing to engage with those who are struggling.”

Since its inception in 2018, the program has certified over 2,200 individuals. It collaborates with several organizations like the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to extend its reach.

“Our goal is to train one of every 15 Iowans so that we can reach all Iowans,” said Kimberly Cavalier, a human sciences specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “We need more people trained so that we can increase mental health awareness in every corner of Iowa.”

The training also includes adaptations for specific needs, such as making materials accessible for the Iowa Department for the Blind. These adaptations ensure that everyone, regardless of disability, has equal access to the training, supporting a broader initiative to foster inclusivity in health education.

Through these concerted efforts, Iowa continues to build a more responsive and empathetic community capable of addressing mental health challenges effectively.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-hirurg

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Categories: Iowa, General

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