Community sheds light on Iowa’s mental health illness gap

DAVENPORT, Iowa - A bill that would have helped expand access to mental health care in Iowa failed in the state capitol.​ It would have gotten rid of the certificate of need process where medical providers go before a state board for approval to offer new services.

Some people in the Quad Cities say there are big gaps in mental health services in this area. They spoke out on Monday March 6, 2017 at a forum held to evaluate needs in the community.

“What they see is different than what a provider sees. They are living with this issue can be devastating to a family trying to navigate this system and we need to understand that​,” said Scott Crane, President of United Way.

Brian Peters’ son was in a rollover automobile accident in March 2000. He suffered traumatic brain injury and now has long term mental health struggles. Peters was one of about 60 people in the forum bringing light to the gaps of Iowa’s mental illness health resources.

“We need supportive groups like this and we need all the support we can get including residential treatment. We need more people and more buildings,” said Peters.

“You need support, you need help. There are all sorts of help for heart patients and cancer but for mental health there isn't,” said Peter Schnyder, who suffers from mental illness.

In Iowa, all health facilities have to go in front of a certificate of need board to be approved before building more facilities. Last year, an out of state mental health facility was blocked twice from coming to Bettendorf, Iowa. UnityPoint Health - Trinity and Genesis Health System fought against the project.

“If you eliminate that process it pretty much creates chaos in the market. You could put together a hospital group anywhere,” said Craig Cooper, with Genesis Health.

“If you're competing it only makes you better,” added Schnyder.

The forum was led by consultants from MTM Services and the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare. The forums are hosted by United Way of the Quad Cities Area, Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health – Trinity. All the feedback from the forum will be put together in a report and sent to local community mental healthcare resources.

“This forum and other research we are doing in the area will help us understand where we need to focus resources to help us improve,” said Crane.

The discussion on mental health will continue on Tuesday, March 7 2017 at Community Health Care in Rock Island from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.