Andrew Allen and Governor Reynolds.

Governor Kim Reynolds is allocating $30 million to provide mental health care to Iowa adults and children.

The federal money was sent to the state to deal with the pandemic. Reynolds said the disruptions COVID-19 has caused in the lives of so many Iowans have made access to mental health services more important than ever.

“It’s important for Iowans to be mindful of their mental health and there’s a place to go if they need help,” she said yesterday during her weekly news conference.

The money will be distributed to the state’s 14 mental health care regions, to pay for direct patient care. Iowa Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia said providers are doing important work in a challenging situation.

“We’re paying attention,” Garcia said. “We’re trying to target our efforts and there is help for those in need.”

Reynolds is allocating another $20 million in federal funds to support substance abuse addiction and mental health counseling.

“While we could not have predicted the pandemic or the legislative session or the CARES Act, this funding could not have come at a more critical time for our state,” said Andrew Allen, president of an Ames-based non-profit that provides counseling and other services to youth.

The 2020 legislature suspended action for 11 weeks due to the pandemic and tabled its debate about ways to boost state funding for mental health services. In January, Governor Reynolds proposed using part of a state sales tax increase to financing the state’s adult and children’s mental health systems but has put that on hold. This federal money is a stop-gap move.

“We don’t want to just weather the storm of COVID-19,” Reynolds said. “We want to help our system to innovate and adapt to the challenges the future holds.”

The state earlier received $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for crisis counseling for Iowans directly impacted by COVID-19.