UnityPoint Health Fights for Mental Health Services in Iowa

UnityPoint Health Fights for Mental Health Services in Iowa

As a leading provider of mental health services, UnityPoint Health played an instrumental role in developing legislation that expands and improves Iowa’s mental health and substance use disorder services.
Notable additions to Iowa House File (HF) 2456 included:

  • Regional access centers. Six regional access centers for people experiencing a mental health crisis that don’t need to be hospitalized, helping them get back to their families and keeping Iowa’s limited number of psychiatric hospital beds open for patients with more severe crises
  • Increased treatment teams. Twenty-two community treatment teams, up from 10, that would assist residents with serious mental illnesses by helping to manage their medication and treatment plans
  • Subacute treatment. Changing mental health commitment rules to encourage “subacute” treatment facilities for patients that still need monitoring after being released from the hospital
  • Dangerous patient reporting. Clearer guidelines for psychiatrists on when to report dangerous patients to law enforcement
  • 24-hour crisis hotline. The hotline offers referrals for treatment and connections to local resources

Several executives from the health system were part of a statewide Complex Services Needs Workgroup who helped make the above recommendations concerning the delivery, access and coordination of mental health services.

Kevin Carroll, Vice President of Behavioral Health Services, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines says the organization is working hard to improve access and outcomes for community members through several of its own initiatives.

“We’re starting a new psychiatry residence program to increase the number of practicing providers in the state, collocating licensed mental health professionals to UnityPoint Clinic settings for better patient accessibility and coordination of services, and improving our screenings of depression and anxiety —among other things. We know the right treatment can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life, and we’re working hard to ensure our patients are properly cared for.” 

Along with Carroll, Iowa law enforcement, mental health providers, and additional health systems, UnityPoint Health workgroup members included:

UnityPoint Health behavioral health services range from inpatient psychiatric hospital units, outpatient therapy and care (through hospitals and clinics), to multiple community-based programs and services.

Better mental health services have been a long-time legislative priority of the UnityPoint Health Government and External Affairs team, who represent UnityPoint Health legislative, operating, and capital priorities. The actions taken by lawmakers these past few weeks serve as a starting point in the state’s journey toward a full, quality continuum of behavioral health care.

There is still more work to be done, and UnityPoint Health will continue to advocate for the services Iowans and others need and deserve.

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