Gatherings Across The State Provide Information to Help Establish A Children’s Mental Health System

JOHNSTON, Iowa – A Children’s Systems State Board is gathering information about personal experiences with children’s mental health services in the state.

The board calls it a “listening post.” There are 10 gatherings and an online survey to gather the information.

The “listening post” locations include:

  • October 2nd 6:00-7:30 p.m.
    • Northwest AEA, 940 Lincoln St. SW LeMars
  • October 3rd 6:00-7:30 p.m.
    • Prairie Lakes AEA, 500 NE 6th St., Pocahontas
  • October 4th 12:00-1:00 p.m.
  • October 8th 5:30-7:00 p.m.
    • Heartland AEA, 6500 Corporate Dr., Johnston
  • October 8th 6:00-7:30 p.m.
    • Fairfield Arts & Convention Center (Great Prairie AEA), 200 North Main St., Fairfield
  • October 10th 5:30-7:00 p.m.
    • Green Hills AEA 257 Swan St. Creston
  • October 10th 6:00-7:30 p.m.
    • Carrie Lee Elementary Auditorium (Keystone AEA) 210 Vernon St., Decorah
  • October 10th 6:00-7:30 p.m.
    • Central Rivers AEA 9184 265th St., Suite B Clear Lake
  • October 11th 6:00-7:30 p.m.
    • Grant Wood AEA 4401 6th St. SW, Cedar Rapids
  • October 11th 5:30-7:00 p.m.
    • Mississippi Bend AEA 729 21st St. Bettendorf

Prairie Lakes AEA Chief Administrator Jeff Herzberg said children’ mental health is wide spread across the state.

“Hearing from people all across the state, it’s everywhere. There is an epidemic of children’s mental health issues and a challenge to meet those needs,” Herzberg said.

The board was established by Governor Kim Reynolds through Executive Order 2 in April 2018. The goal is to gather information to help establish a children’s mental health system in Iowa.

The board is co-chaired by Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven and Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise.

Herzberg said children can be diagnosed as early as 12 years-old with a mental illness.

“The issues are complex, so some children may need a residential setting, others may need less intense services and we need to have a whole continuum of services from those that are least restrictive to places where we need to keep kids safe,” Herzberg said.

Herzberg said some signs to look out for include: acting out, withdrawing from activities and people close to them.

Herzberg said one suggestion is having extra resources in the schools where children spend a lot of time.

“Students are in schools, but schools are asked to do a lot. One of the issues is lack of skilled training for schools to deal with these issues. Our teachers aren’t mental health counselors, they aren’t neccesarily trauma therapists, but we have to be more understanding on what trauma does to mental health issues. But we do need the resources,” Herzberg said.

Board Members will review its information gathered and develop recommendations to create a children’s mental health system. These recommendations will be due to the legislature on November 15th .

If you cannot make a gathering, but would like to contribute click here to review the online survey. The survey closes October 12th.