Mental Health

Mercy Medical Center

Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines is receiving the go-ahead to start a psychiatric residency program. The hospital hopes to fill the void of behavioral health providers in the state.

Mercy has been approved to begin a four-year residency program in psychiatry, and is recruiting the first class of four doctors to begin in 2018. Iowa ranks 47th among states in the number of practicing psychiatrists per capita. The medical director of behavioral health at Mercy, Dr. Sasha Khosravi, estimates there are more than 120,000 Iowans with serious mental illness.

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Dan Lerner teaches the largest and most popular non-required course at New York University: "The Science of Happiness."  We were lucky to get to talk to him for an hour about his ideas.  He told us: "Surprisingly, there are a lot of scientific studies that have been done on the idea of happiness--in fact since the late 90s there has been a wave of research into what we call positive psychology, or what is simply termed happiness, well-being or thriving."

Margalea Warner has been living with schizophrenia since she was in her 20’s. When she was first starting to have symptoms, life was hard.

“I had depression as a teenager, and as a college student. I had a very serious suicide attempt my freshman year that I survived,” she explains.

“But then my senior year, I heard voices in my head telling me to jump into the Potomac River, and I obeyed them."

“My life became more and more unmanageable, and my mother took me to our family doctor who was sure I was on drugs. I wasn’t. It was my illness.”

Flickr / an0nym0n0us

Coe College and the Willis Dady emergency shelter in Cedar Rapids are teaming up on Monday to host a service day for veterans experiencing homelessness or near homelessness. The sessions will focus on mental health, personal finance and employment. 

Willis Dady volunteer coordinator Holli Erkson says that often times people who are caught in the cycle of homelessness encounter additional barriers to employment.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says the investigation continues into the abuse of patients at the state-run Glenwood Resource Center in western Iowa. 

But he says he will not second-guess the Department of Human Services for not reprimanding supervisors at the facility which cares for patients with profound mental disabilities.

Six employees were fired and others were disciplined for physically and verbally abusing patients, but that did not include managers.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Republican-controlled Iowa statehouse aims to limit abortion access by cutting off public funding to Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a reported 26,000 patients.

Lawmakers say they’ll fund sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided by organizations other than Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. But the healthcare organization said in a conference call this morning this will create a vacuum for critical services.

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.

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.

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 director briefed Governor Branstad’s budget panel on the program.

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.

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In a report on psychiatric beds in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the 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.

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 Bluffs. 

Todd Lappin/flickr

A shortage of mental health physicians could be alleviated under a program Governor Branstad announced today.

Iowa ranks 41st 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 get job offers there and they don’t come back," Branstad said.     

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Daniel Finney has struggled with depression for nearly two decades. In that time, his doctors prescribed the two stalwarts in the depression treatment stable: talk therapy and prescription drugs. When he went through a major depressive episode earlier this year, however, his doctor suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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.

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.

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 tuition levels should be next spring. 

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 through December with a plan to privatize services after that.  

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 of the fact that you are on this journey to recover."

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 Iowa law books. 

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.       

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.

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 30th

Under the compromise, the facilities will stay open through December 15th, and then later reopen as private facilities.   

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.

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 the state, from 66 of the 99 counties."

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.

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.

kc7fys / Flickr

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

Will_Cyclist / Flickr

Winter is the time we're most tempted to bundle up and stay inside. But sunlight and exercise can be our best natural allies for the winter blues.

jetsandzeppelins / Flickr

Mining 20 years of data, a new study by the National Institutes of Health has found a link between some pesticides and depression. 

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