Kim Reynolds

As she spoke, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds focused on the recent statistic that Iowa is the #1 state in the nation, a position she committed to maintain. She became governor in May 2017 after then governor Terry Branstad was appointed the United States Ambassador to China.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed two bills Thursday morning that aim to help alleviate mental health issues in the state.

The first bill, SF 2113, “is an Act requiring school employee training and protocols relating to suicide prevention and the identification of adverse childhood experiences and strategies to mitigate toxic stress response.”

The bill defines adverse childhood experiences as one that is a potentially traumatic event occurring in childhood that can have negative, lasting effects on an individual’s health and well-being.

It would then require members of a school district’s board of directors, faculty and anyone who has regular contact with K-12 students to take an annual course on suicide prevention by July 1, 2019.

The training would also include “evidence-based, evidence-supported” ways to identify the adverse childhood experiences that can lead to lasting impacts.

One group in particular, the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council (SIYAC), lobbied for these changes.

In a social media statement they stated, “SIYAC has been working on this issue since 2013 and is excited to see it pass its final hurdle.”

The second bill, HF 2456, gained unanimous support from the legislature and makes significant changes to the mental health care system in Iowa.

In a statement at the capitol, Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt said, “The mental health system right now, when we deal with somebody with a mental health issue, that person ends up in our jail where they don’t get the treatment they need.”

This bill aims to fix that by setting up six mental healthcare centers around the state that operate 24/7, create 22 community treatment teams and start intensive residential service homes that can treat up to 120 members at once.

These homes would serve to help those with mental illness or who are at risk to themselves in a better way than previously done in Iowa.

The core services the bill aims to provide include but are not limited to: assessment and evaluation, mental health outpatient therapy, medication prescribing and management and mental health inpatient treatment.

Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, stated “It sets up critical access centers to where we can give law enforcement that direct diversion, to where they aren’t waiting in emergency rooms with patients for days, trying to figure out what bed they can get the patient treatment at. That’s huge.”

Law enforcement and medical professionals all supported the bill before its final passage. 

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