Psychiatrist Says Mental Health Institute Should Stay Open

Feb 12, 2015

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," Whitters says. "Once they drinking it develops into a life of its own, where the first thing that needs to be done is to put out the fire of substance abuse before you can even start reaching into some of the primary psychiatric disorders." 

Whitters also cites a need to increase 24-hour geriatric care for people with dementia. Often these patients are a safety hazard to other residents due to aggressive behavior.

Whitters testified Wednesday before the Iowa Senate Human Resources Committee. Governor Terry Branstad’s budget calls for the closing of the Mt. Pleasant Health Institute as well as one in Clarinda.