The state government’s closure of mental health facilities throughout the state is a huge blow to the healthcare needs of some of our most at-risk Iowans. In Johnson County we must meet this challenge proactively. Every moment of delay is another moment where someone in need will continue to needlessly suffer.
The state of mental healthcare throughout the nation is already in crisis and our government’s actions only make the problems worse. It will fall to the local governments to provide a safety net for citizen in need of care.
We can do this in a number of ways:
- We need education and outreach programs that strive to end the stigma of mental illness. Many people suffer in silence and shame and that can’t continue. It’s important that we educate citizens throughout the county on the realities of mental illness. Mental illness is not a moral failing. It is not a weakness of character. Mental illness is a malady that requires compassion and care like any other disease. We can be a community that cares and the Board of Supervisors can lead the way.
- We must be constant advocates for increased funding from the state and provide opportunities for those who suffer to access care more easily. We can do this by staff training in county facilities and also through funding outreach programs for those who can’t access care. Combine the state-level cuts with increased regional control of mental healthcare and we have a recipe for disaster. The Board of Supervisors can be strong advocates for our citizens who suffer. We must elect candidates who will put those who suffer from mental illness at the forefront of our community consciousness.
I grew up around people who struggled with alcohol and other substances. I myself have struggled with alcoholism.
Addiction is a cunning adversary and it’s nearly impossible to overcome addiction without the help and support of loved ones and the community. Often addicts feel like they are the outcasts of our society. They often feel like they have failed at being a good citizen, mother, father, son or daughter.
Addicts are often left with nowhere to turn and nowhere to go. Their addiction may only be a symptom of a larger mental health issue. Too often society turns a blind eye to their suffering. Iowa’s history as a progressing state, claiming many first in our history, can and should lead the way in building addict support systems that value the patient and humanizes the disease.
We need to support those who suffer from addiction and strive to recognize addiction as a symptom of a deeper mental illness. Addiction itself is a mental illness and not a failure of morals or character. Our citizens suffering with addiction need more help and understanding.
We need to provide volunteer outreach organizations aimed at helping addicts on the road to recovery and we need to found shelter programming where addicts can go to seek help and refuge.