Mental Health

Practicing Gratitude

Dec 6, 2016
Courtesy of Brad Anderson

Whether you’re grateful for the warm cup of coffee in your hands or for another day of life, the act of being grateful can be powerful. Many question whether the act of being grateful can have physical benefits as well. “Gratitude is sort of like a vitamin for the brain, in a way,” says Cindy Nichols Anderson, a clinical child psychologist and owner and founder of Hope Springs Behavioral Consultants in Coralville. “It helps us. When we are grateful, we’re more likely to have an uplifted mood,...

Santiago Alvarez

While young woman are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to eating disorders, eating disorders affect women and men of all ages. Lisa Knopp is the author of Bread , a memoir about her struggle with anorexia at the ages of fifteen, twenty-five and again at fifty-four. Knopp says her daughter was the one who really awakened her to this problem. "She told me, ‘You have an eating disorder, and you’re going to die if you don’t start eating more. I want to say it was a grand...

Joyce Russell/IPR

A new program to get severely ill psychiatric patients into a hospital in a timely manner is working, according to a new report by the Iowa Department of Human Services. Officials say the 29 hospitals in Iowa that serve psychiatric patients are now reporting available beds into a statewide database, so law enforcement officers and others can know where there’s an opening in an emergency situation. “We now have 100% involvement of all the hospitals,” said DHS director Charles Palmer. The DHS...

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Rural towns need psychologists, social workers and substance abuse counselors, but there is a chronic shortage. The U.S. needs about 2,700 more clinicians to catch up to demand, according to the Department of Health and Human Services . Outside of metropolitan areas there just aren't enough providers to go around. "It's quite serious because, in Nebraska, 88 out of 93 counties are federally designated as underserved areas for mental health," says Howard Liu, a psychologist at the University...

Lee / Flickr

In a report on psychiatric beds in all fifty states and the District of Columbia , t he Treatment Advocacy Center found Iowa ranked dead last in terms of mental health beds per capita. Dr. Jimmy Potash, professor and chair of psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, says that's a big problem. "It’s very clear that we don’t have as many psychiatric beds in the state as we really need. And the gap is most glaring when it comes to state psychiatric beds. In that important way...

Joyce Russell/IPR

A Marion woman gave tearful testimony before a statehouse committee, imploring them to protect mental health services under Medicaid privatization. The woman’s friend was killed this week, allegedly by her son who has been described as severely mentally ill. Thirty-year old Michael Dieckman was being held on two counts of murder in the deaths of his mother, 63 year old Jacqueline Dieckman and his 91 year old grandmother, whose bodies were found on Wednesday in the home they shared in Council...

Todd Lappin/flickr

A shortage of mental health physicians could be alleviated under a program Governor Branstad announced today. Iowa ranks 41 st in the nation in the number of practicing psychiatrists. So the state will spend $4 million for new psychiatric residency programs at three Des Moines medical centers, Broadlawns, UnityPoint Health, and Mercy Hospital. Branstad says Iowa educates a lot of doctors at U of I and at Des Moines University. “But if they go and do their residency out of state, they tend to...

courtesy of Katie Kovacovich / Luther College Active Minds

Early in high school, Katie Kovacovich struggled with anxiety, depression, and self-harm. By her senior year, she had gone to counseling, talked with her parents, and felt prepared for the next step. She said the transition to campus for her first year at Luther College was relatively painless. "To speak to the Luther community, they do a fabulous job of integrating students in their first year and pushing community and pushing involvement. I found that transition to be smoother than I...

Boston Police Department

Two Iowa men are being held without bail in Boston, pending a dangerousness hearing on September 1. Boston Police say 18-year-old Kevin Norton of Ames and 27-year-old James Stumbo of Boone drove more than 20 hours to the Pokémon World Championships in Boston. The two were arrested late Friday night after a search of the men’s vehicle turned up guns, several hundred rounds of ammunition, and a hunting knife. On Thursday the two attempted to register for the convention and security officers, on...

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad Thursday vetoed millions of dollars in state spending the legislature approved last month, saying some of the appropriations are unsustainable. He trimmed back the more than seven billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that started this week. The vetoes cut education spending for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the Regents Universities. Education advocates call the K-12 cuts shameful. Regents President Bruce Rastetter says they’ll begin considering what...

John Pemble/IPR

After weeks of bipartisan negotiations, the Iowa House and Senate last night defied the governor, and voted to have the state continue to operate the Mental Health Institute at Mount Pleasant. A spokesman for Governor Branstad says he will carefully review the bill. By a comfortable margin in the Senate, and a narrow margin in the House, a Health and Human Services budget was approved to hire back laid-off workers at Mount Pleasant and restore mental health services. Clarinda will stay open...

It’s been about three months since Daniel Finney wrote his first column in the Des Moines Register about his efforts to lose more than 300 pounds. On this edition of Talk of Iowa , host Charity Nebbe speaks with Daniel Finney about his weight loss journey. "The little things are a tremendous life improvement," says Finney, referring to walking to the mailbox and household chores. "You go from dreading simple basic daily tasks to not really thinking about them, and you become really grateful...

Photo by John Pemble

A tentative deal to keep Iowa’s mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda open longer is meeting with stiff opposition from Democrats in the Iowa Senate. As part of the deal, there would no longer be any reference in Iowa law to the two institutes, nor to the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Negotiators say the governor agreed to keep the institutes open through December 15, instead of closing them next month, but only if all references to the three facilities are stricken from...

Children and Young People's Research Network/flickr

A $3 million state program to support treatment of autism in children will continue under a social services bill making its way through the legislature. But one backer wants a change in how the money is spent. Mount Pleasant Republican David Heaton says the program has faltered, not through lack of interest, but through lack of expertise in treating autism. “We started this program two years ago to provide specialized treatment to children with autism,” Heaton says. “We have not been able to...

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Two years ago, Jennifer Marshall launched a project on Kickstarter to make it easier to talk openly about mental illness. “This is My Brave” was the product - a night of music, poetry and storytelling performed by and for people with mental illness and their advocates. The event is coming to Iowa for the first time on Friday, May 15. Joseph Sorensen is a songwriter from Cedar Rapids who will be performing. “Music has always helped me process how I feel. Many of my songs are about mental...

John Pemble/IPR

A Republican lawmaker who negotiated an agreement with the Governor to delay the closings of the mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda is defending the plan against Democratic critics. Representative David Heaton of Mount Pleasant says without the compromise, the Governor would have used his veto power to force the closings on June 30 th Under the compromise, the facilities will stay open through December 15 th , and then later reopen as private facilities. Democrats in the...

In 2009, Mark Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg head football coach Ed Thomas during a schizophrenic break. He is now serving a life sentence for first degree murder. His mother, Joan Becker, writes about her son and her family’s struggle with his mental health in her new memoir Sentenced to Life: The Mark Becker Story . Joan remembers when she first started noticing changes in Mark’s behavior. “What we saw was a young man who had been a leader in his class start to withdraw. We attributed...

Joyce Russell / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa Senate heard from employees and former employees at the state’s mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda on Wednesday, after the institutes continue to be targeted by Governor Branstad for closing. Nurses and other staff say patients and their families are still calling and asking for placements, even though the institutions are not accepting new patients. Ann Davison is a nurse at Clarinda who still has her job, "We've received over 120 calls from across...

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A Cedar Rapids psychiatrist is concerned with the closing of the Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute and a general lack of mental health services, including specialized residential programs. The closing of Mt. Pleasant means the state's only residential program that caters to people with both psychiatric and substance abuse issues will discontinue. Dr. Al Whitters says this is a much-needed service. "People with serious mental illness have a tendency to try to treat themselves with alcohol,"...

Iowa lawmakers from the House and Senate weighed the benefits of closing two of the state's four mental health institutes, during a joint subcommittee today. Under Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposal the Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant facilities would close, consolidating adult psychiatric services at Independence and Cherokee mental health institutes. Clarinda has 9 inpatient psychiatric beds and Mt. Pleasant 15. Under the consolidation plan, the Independence facility would increase its residential...

kc7fys / Flickr

In the budget proposal he released last week, Governor Branstad quietly cut funding for two of Iowa's four mental health institutes.

25 Mile March

Oct 24, 2014

U.S. Army veteran John Lame and Iowa National Guardsman Chad Madison are organizing what they hope will be an annual event to raise awareness about solider suicide. Lame says their effort is based on a program in Minnesota called The Next Objective held each October 23rd. He says the 23 stands for the 23 veterans each day last year who committed suicide, "We couldn't go to Minnesota this year to be part of theirs, so we decided to do our own and add two more miles so it's closer to a marathon...

Courtesy of Joan Becker

Five years ago, Mark Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg head coach Ed Thomas. His mother, Joan, is now an advocate for mental health in Iowa.

There’s little doubt that college sports are at a crossroads. As money collides with education, Drake University’s Athletic Director says it’s time to make sports “co-curricular” instead of “extra-curricular.”

Milosz Reterski / Navy NewsStand

Robin Williams's death has dominated news coverage in the past week. But how much of that coverage has been helpful and how much as been harmful?

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It was 60 years ago when mental health professionals welcomed a new option for their patients. Instead of radical brain surgery and dangerous forms of shock treatment, doctors could prescribe a simple oral medication for the first time. An Iowa woman was a nurse during this crucial turning point and IPR’s Rick Fredericksen has her story.

Linh Ta/IowaWatch / IowaWatch.org

Accommodations are available for college students struggling with depression, but university counseling centers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Hear about an IowaWatch.org report on the difficulty these students experience including what is often a harsh stigma associated with being depressed. Also in this program, media political economist Robert McChesney has a bleak assessment of our new age of internet journalism. “Rupert Murdoch, the greatest media imperialist of our era, the...

Amanda Hatfield

Today's River to River examines the diagnosis of depression, treatment options, and the possibility of prescribing anti-depressants to people with mild symptoms of depression or even merely sadness. Guests also evaluate how depression in farmers is treated and viewed differently than others.

Stacie Mitchell, Director of Clinical Services, LMHC RPT CCDP-D

More than 1600 families are on Iowa’s children's mental health wavier waiting list. That means there are 1600 families who can’t access certain services they need in order to care for their children. For the past two years, Kim Jensen’s family has been one of those. She says it got really hard not having help caring for her daughter, Grace, who she and her husband adopted through the Iowa foster care system. “She was severely aggressive when she was 5 and 6 years old. She is little, but she...

Brian Friedman / Wikimedia

Comedian Mike Birbiglia hit the big time by sharing his most intimate and embarrassing experiences on stage. Host Charity Nebbe talks with him about storytelling and the power of oversharing. Birbiglia is traveling the country right now with his latest show, “Thank God For Jokes,” and is appearing at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on Saturday, May 17th . He’s also become a regular panelist on NPR’s "Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me," and filmed a role in one of the most anticipated movies of the...

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