Parents of children with mental health issues are pleading with Iowa lawmakers to take action and improve children’s mental health services in the state.
Cayleen Mesecher of Ankeny said when she’s taken her child to the emergency room, she’s often told to go to a psychiatrist instead and it can take months to get an appointment.
“Sorry, you want to kill yourself, but you have to wait six months,” she said, choking back tears. “We can’t do that to these kids. We can’t lose another life. We can’t tell them to wait.”
Mesecher and other parents spoke at a meeting of the state children’s behavioral health board this month about the challenges they’ve faced in trying to find the appropriate care for their kids. Sarah Nelson of Iowa City said her 12-year-old daughter was having a mental health crisis and had to spend six days waiting in an emergency room.
“We’re in a room for a long period of time without any treatment whatsoever,” Nelson said. “She’s being kept safe, but that’s kind of where that starts and ends while we look for a bed and for treatment.”
The board is asking state leaders to ensure funding for children’s services and find ways to address Iowa’s shortage of mental health professionals. The group also recommends universal screening of kids for mental health issues.
(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)