We can do better with mental health care


To the Editor:
It’s gratifying to read that the Diocese of Davenport is talking about the need for improved mental health care treatment (The Catholic Messenger, May 22). The need for quality care for the mentally ill is woefully inadequate in Iowa. That’s apparent from the low priority given to improving mental health care by the governor. Has the Mental Health and Disability Services Redesign incorporated a year ago helped the mentally ill? We have fewer services and wait lists are impossibly long, especially for highly troubled teens and definitely for the chronically mentally ill. Our homeless veterans either can’t get into the mental health care system, including the VA, or perhaps are too sick to try. Advocates are sorely needed.
My last job in nursing as an RN was working in a clinic for people with schizophrenia, and all allied disorders. Bipolar, schizo-affective, eating disorders … it’s like a pyramid. The meds can cause debilitating side effects, such as weight gain, lethargy or bodily changes. That makes it difficult for patients to stay on their meds, even knowing the consequences of stopping. Folks need to know that it can be that hard.
Now I work at a call center. Calls for help in finding care for mental illness are on the rise. A mom calls from a parking lot after finding our 800-number. A desperate search for help and feeling there’s no place to go. She and her child have been turned away for lack of psychiatrists, psychologists and, all too often, a bed for that very sick child. Those of us who do this job know we can listen, support and encourage with all the kindness we possess. We strive to calm the callers, affirm the difficulties they face and sometimes can find resources. Callers know they can call back.
Bottom line? WE can do better.
Bobbie Paxton
Iowa City


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