Recently I’ve had some conversations with some patients regarding their frustration with the mental healthcare system and their ability to find appropriate and adequate care. Reaching out for help regarding one’s mental health can be a scary task all its own, let alone with the added barriers to care that we are now facing as a state and a nation.
An article written by Samantha Raphelson for National Public Radio addressed what she calls a “public health crisis”. The article from November 2017 reports that nearly 3.4 percent of Americans, or more than 8 million people, experience some sort of serious mental health ailment. The article continues to address the lack of psychiatric beds present across our nation. These effects can be seen even within our state. I have personally heard stories of people waiting for days or even weeks for a psychiatric bed in emergency rooms or being sent from one hospital to another, sometimes hours away, trying to find an open bed.
In addition to a lack of psychiatric beds, other barriers that prevent access to care include under funded programs and care along with insurance parameters limiting care and who can provide that care.
Recently the Iowa legislature passed House File 2456 to expand services for mental healthcare, including opening regional access centers. It is also reported that the Iowa legislature is working on the budget to allow for an increase in funding for additional mental healthcare services. While this is good news, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure proper care for everyone.
One way that you can make a difference is by contacting your local representatives as well as our state senators and congressional representatives. You can find out who to contact by following the provided link below. If you have faced frustration with the current mental healthcare system, know that you are not alone and your voice can be heard.
To find your elected officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
About the Writer: Kelly Robertson, LMFT
Kelly has experience working with family and relational issues, depression, anxiety, anger and aggression, and trauma.