Mental Health

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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.

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.

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.

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 is strong. After a while, we couldn’t find anyone to watch her.

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 year.  A conversation about making people laugh, the conne

Martin Terber

This week, Iowa State University discovered a security breach affecting computer servers that contained Social Security numbers of thousands of students.  Host Ben Kieffer speaks with Provost Jonathan Wickert about how ISU is protecting their data against hackers.

Mary Thompson Riney

Despite news reports that highlight danger, the world is actually a much safer place for children than it once was.  Accidental death rates for children were much higher in the early 19th and 20th centuries.  And yet, children who were once encouraged to go outside and play, are now highly supervised in organized sports and spend more time watching television than playing outdoors.  On this Earth Day, Host Charity Nebbe talks with historian Pamela Riney-Kehrberg about her new book The Nature of Childhood: An Enivornmental History of Growing Up in America since 1865."  In it, Kehrbe

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Mercy Medical Center is expanding its capacity to treat people for short term mental health emergencies on its Des Moines campus. The nearly $12 million project moves the behavioral health treatment center from a separate facility, to take up two floors of the hospital’s west building.

Dr. Sasha Khostravi directs the unit for children and teens. Often—he says—there aren’t enough psychiatric beds to meet demand. The average stay in the inpatient facility is three days.

Photo by John Pemble

Children with serious mental health issues are waiting as long as two years to receive services in their communities.  Host Clay Masters talks with Tammy from Iowa City whose son has been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  She says services like respite care are essential for families exhausted from caring for a suicidal or angry child.  But such services aren't covered by insurance.  A children's mental health waiver is designed to cover the gap between what insurance covers and what services are needed, but the wa

SD Dirk

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Public Radio's Des Moines correspondent Rick Fredricksen about how lobotomies became common practice for curing PTSD in Iowa veterans after WWII.  Also, the Des Moines Register's Bryce Miller discusses the Cyclones in the Sweet 16, and the University of Iowa turns down HBO's

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

From radical brain surgery, to drug therapy and meditation, Iowa veterans have done it all while coping with mental illness in the aftermath of war. Treatments have come a long way since lobotomies were performed on World War II vets in Knoxville.  

See the Wall Street Journal investigation

Janet Crum

Serving in the military changes one's perspective on life, but often it also alters the way they face death.  Ben Kieffer speaks with Deborah Grassman, the CEO and co-founder of Opus Peace.  Opus Peace  is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help people work through trauma.

Prior to Opus Peace, Grassman worked as a nurse practitioner for three decades at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was also the director of the VA's hospice program and personally took care of over 10,000 dying veterans.

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 guy who’s had patience of decades to take over China.

The Moth

The Moth Radio Hour has captured the hearts of public radio listeners, but before those “true stories told live” make it to the radio they are told on a stage somewhere in the United States. This Friday that stage is the Iowa City's Englert Theatre.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Maggie Cino, director of The Moth, and the host of Friday’s event Peter Aguero.  

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