TRAUMA MAMAS: Push For Mental Health Funding

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A group of moms brought a message to the Capitol Wednesday.  They're pushing for more funding for children's mental health services.

They call themselves the Trauma Mamas.  They met in doctors offices in the Waterloo area.  About 20 strong, they provide support for one another.  Now, they're joining forces to lobby lawmakers.

“I have children that you need to monitor all of the time,” says Alissa Tschetter- Siedschlaw.

“We can't have our friends and family watch her.  She's too violent.  Hitting and kicking, breaking windows, jumping out windows,” explains Kim Jensen.

Many of them are adoptive parents.

“I was given a kid who came from horrible circumstances who was prone to violence, who was prone to delusions, prone to all of these things and I’m doing my best to clean it up, but I need help,” says Tschetter-Siedschlaw.

But they don’t always find the help they need in Iowa.  Some have sent their child out-of-state for care.  More than 16,000 people are on the waiting list for the Children Mental Health Waiver that provides respite care.

“That is a pretty significant number of people and know that’s about a two year wait to access those services,” says State Rep. Lisa Heddens, (D) Ames.

Heddens says Democrats will ask for the $8.7 million needed to fund the wait list.  Lawmakers approved the money last year, but Governor Branstad vetoed it.

“He said said last year that he didn’t agree with the buying down of the waiver and wanted to look for some other alternative, but he has not come forth with another alternative,” says Heddens.

Leaving these moms on a mission to fight for funding to help their families and other who share their common bond.

The Governor's Office says Governor Branstad is committed to a sustainable mental health system that benefits all Iowans.  In the last two years, the state has invested $138-million in new funding for services.


  • MaryCannon Derisory Apodaca

    Sixty years ago as seven year old I hates myself, wanted to die and had issues of abandonment. Not that I was ever abandoned, but I felt abandoned. No one saw that I was in trouble. I’m not sure that back then people even realized children could have mental/emotional problems. In the past month I have lost a 28 yo grand daughter to suicide. She was troubled all of her life, but the help just wasn’t there for her. Another grand child 23yo has been struggling with mental health issues for over a year now, but finding help has been next to impossible. I am Facebook friends with a number of young people, some high school age and see comments posted to their pages that are indications they need help. Some recognize they have a need but have no idea where to turn for help. These young people today will one day be the 67 yo people like myself whose lives have fallen short because they did not have the help they needed. I will always suffer from the abandonment issues which have pretty much ruined my life as far as being a stable productive member of society. We MUST provide better health care for our young people before they become adults with even deeper issues.

    • Jeanne Coburn

      Mary, you are absolutely right. Hopefully, we are moving in the right direction and making people more aware. If you know someone who is suicidal, please seek help for them. I have lost too many people close in my life to suicide. The is a great resource. Always ask them if they “have a plan” to end their life. If they do then it is critical to get them help immediately. They must be taken to the emergency room. I am proud to be a part of this Trauma Mama group and it has been an incredible source of support to me while I parent a RAD child.

      • MaryCannon Derisory Apodaca

        SEEKING help, & FINDING help are two different things. I am currently aware of a 15 yo in need of help. His Mother is parked at a local hospital with the child going on three days now while a search is being made for someplace where he can receive treatment. This family has minimal income, and the places she is filling out paper work for admission are both well over 100 miles from their home. THIS is INSANE! The child is admitted to the local hospital, but of course there is no treatment for the mental/emotional trauma. HOW, can our society not recognize and provide such an important need. A child falls out of a tree and breaks a leg… no one expects the child to pick himself up and keep walking without treatment. A child is afflicted with cancer… no one shrugs their shoulders and says… “Oh that’s too bad”. WHY is it that a brain disorder is simply ignored?

        I would like to know how to become involved in your group.

      • Jeanne coburn

        Mary, you are absolutely right, it is just crazy!!!! I think about that former congressman in West Virginia who recently lost his son to suicide. He had tried a very hard to get him help and his son was just too determined. The closest hospital for him was over 100 miles away and no beds available, It happens so often. I think awareness has to help and advocacy like what the trauma mama group did on Wednesday. That’s not all, and those changes are slow in comparison to the desperation most people, like your friend, are in. Surrounding ones self with as much support as possible helps. People in the close proximity of this family need to team up to know the issues with this child’s mental health, have a pow wow about how to best support her and rally together to be there for her as her mother pursues mental health treatment, I realize I am no in her shoes, but I know, as you do, that I wish I would have done more to help prevent the suicides in my life,

        Mary, send me a private email and we will talka bout what is going on in your life with children with mental health issues and reactive attachment disorder etc. thanks.jeanne

      • MaryCannon Derisory Apodaca

        Jeanne, I am not sure how to go about contacting you through private email. You may reach me @ The two things that I feel strongly about and want to see changes made in our society is “CHILDREN’S RIGHTS” and “Mental Health Services for Children”. I dislike the label MENTAL HEALTH, because it implies that the brain is a separate part of a human being. We must treat the body as a WHOLE and recognize brain disorders are no different than any other illness or disorder of the body. In fact disorders and or diseases of the body can cause the brain to malfunction. We must provide quality health care for our young people and recognize their rights as human beings. There is absolutely far too much stigma attached to those who are suffering without proper care.

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