Severe Weather Alerts

MENTAL HEALTH: Improving Iowa’s System

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Iowa lawmakers have been working on a way to redesign Iowa’s mental health services for several years, but their work just found new urgency.

 “I am very proud of Iowa for being ahead of the curve nationwide for having this conversation before tragedy struck and start moving in a positive direction," said Representative Renee Schulte.

They don't know how the Connecticut school shooter's mental illness may have guided his massacre on classrooms of children, they do know it's a reminder they can't do enough to help troubled people.

Dr. Mark Peltan told the panel, “It's feasible that if there had been a system of care in place, that the young man may have never done what he did."

Iowa lawmakers are looking at a new plan called the Iowa Children's Cabinet. It unites families, providers, state agencies and courts with the simple goal of making children's lives better.

Funding concerns are one of the main obstacles and lawmakers are still unsure of the cost of this new plan.

Senator Joe Bolkcom said, “I think our job is to make sure going forward we have the best mental health service system available to all our families and all our Iowans. We have quite a bit of work to do to meet that promise."

The Iowa children's cabinet is just one part of this major overhaul of the system, which could take four to five years to fully implement.

Another major task will be what to do with Iowa’s four mental health institutions. The newest one was built in 1902.