The consensus is clear: Iowa youth need help dealing with mental health.
At least, that’s the message from a panel of University of Iowa experts.
This fall, Iowa City will see the opening of a new mental health clinic at the school at 125 Dubuque Street, employees of the Iowa Center for School Mental Health announced during the Iowa Board of Governors meeting Thursday.
The clinic is a component of the K-12 UI Mental Health Center that was announced statewide last summer. Besides clinical care, it aims to improve mental health through methods such as research and teacher training.
“Our hope is that we will be able to go to schools after a crisis or trauma, and be able to interview students and staff — who are in need — to provide some of that immediate support,” Alyssa Dubay, director of clinical services for ICSMH, told the judges on Thursday.
Dubay described the need for counseling in Iowa as “unfounded”.
16% of Iowa residents ages 12 to 17 have a mental health disorder, an ICSMH staff told governors, but less than half are receiving treatment.
Meanwhile, a 2021 statewide survey He found nearly one in four 11th graders in Iowa, or 24%, reported an attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents in Iowa.
Doobay said Thursday that after a school crisis situation, such as a suicide, it is usually the local education agency or mobile crisis awareness team that responds first.
“But often there is a rapid decline, and many of these individuals still need support after the early days and hours,” she continued.
The goal is for the International Center for Psychiatry and Mental Health (ICSMH) to help fill gaps in mental health care across the state. The Iowa Center for School Mental Health is a partnership between the Iowa Board of Governors, the Iowa Department of Education, and the University of Iowa College of Education.
Since the announcement of the opening of the ICSMH last summer – Along with $20 million in coronavirus relief funding from the state – She received requests for direct support in the school to deal with crises. The center is piloting intervention services in some areas, such as Fairfield’s.
A rural school district in southeastern Iowa saw two student suicides last fall. In November, the community learned that the 66-year-old Spanish language teacher Nohima Graber is found dead in a park, allegedly murdered by two high school students.
Staff at the UI Center traveled to Fairfield Schools throughout the year, providing resources such as staff training in mental health, ongoing therapy, crisis debriefing and coping skills.
“Really, to be just a listening ear and a mental health expert to support them during those crises,” Dubay said.
Tripling the number of school counselors in the United States or Iowa won’t make the ratio between students and counselors what it should, said Carrie Vogelsang, director of professional development at ICSMH.
That’s why it’s important to make sure all people in the school environment are trained in mental health, Vogelgsang said.
While the data shows mental health deteriorating among young people over time, she was optimistic about the future on Thursday.
“We are having this conversation; you have allowed us to come here and talk,” Vogelgsang told the judges. “We received money to open a position like this.”
“I think that’s the positive piece: We’re having this conversation.”
Several options are available for quick access to mental health services:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-TALK (8255). Other online resources are available at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
- CommUnity Crisis Service crisis phone or text: 1-855-325-4296
- Mobile CommUnity Team: 1-855-581-8111
Cleo Krejci covers education for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. You can reach her at email@example.com.