In the news: Gov. Reynolds signs mental health, suicide prevention bills
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed two bills last Thursday that represent Iowa’s commitment to treating Iowans facing mental health challenges with compassion and dignity. Here are some of the headlines from around the state following the bill signing:
Business Record: Reynolds signs two key mental health bills
“We are excited about the significant progress these bills represent in improving our mental health system,” said Peggy Huppert, executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Iowa. “They’ve both been a long time coming. To see them pass unanimously and be signed on the same day is thrilling.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed bills Thursday that make sweeping changes in Iowa’s mental health system and which require suicide prevention training for school employees.
More than 200 people attended an emotional bill-signing ceremony in the Iowa Capitol Rotunda where Reynolds was joined by parents and other family members of people who have experienced mental illness, including some who have taken their own lives. Many legislators, advocates, and other officials, including county sheriffs who deal with persons with mental illness, were also present.
Des Moines Register: Sergei Neubauer left his mark on Iowa’s mental health system
So I personally want to thank Reynolds for helping to elevate this issue by including it in her Condition of the State message and making it one of only a handful of top priorities for the year. I especially appreciate the fact that Reynolds emphasized at the bill-signing that this legislation is only the beginning.
“If teachers who spend hours every day with kids aren’t aware, then that many more kids could fall through the cracks and not get the help that they need,” said Mary Neubauer, who lost her son to suicide. “So, I think that bill gives teachers additional tools to know what to look for and puts in place information for teachers to know where to send kids if they see someone struggling.”
Quad-City Times: Iowa governor signs mental health, suicide prevention bills
“Today is a significant day. This is an acknowledgement of the difficulties that have existed here in Iowa, of the people who haven’t gotten the help that they’ve needed,” said Mary Neubauer, who advocated for the comprehensive changes after dealing with a situation where her Russian-born adopted son took his life four days before his 19th birthday.
“This puts in place a framework for the real work to begin to develop the programs and to put in place the capacity and the help that is needed. Do I think that these bills are going to solve every ill out there? No. I don’t know a bill that could. But it’s a huge, positive affirmation,” she added. “The follow through is absolutely critical. This is an important starting point that, frankly, we have never reached before in Iowa, but truly now the real work begins.”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake said it appeared all 150 legislators attended this morning’s event — a signal lawmakers will find money to help counties who shoulder most of the cost of caring for vulnerable Iowans with mental illnesses.
The Daily Nonpareil: New law expands Iowa’s mental health services
Clive resident Mary Neubauer, who is an Iowa Lottery vice president, said her family was frustrated by Iowa’s lack of mental health resources when they sought treatment for her 18-year-old son, Sergei, who killed himself last fall. He went to mental health facilities in Arizona and California, and Neubauer said having to seek help out of state “was a factor in what happened to him.”
She praised the legislation — which received unanimous approval in the Legislature — as making critical improvements to mental health services, particularly by creating more residential treatment options.
“This was exactly the kind of care that our son needed and that we could not find in Iowa,” Neubauer said. “Does that bill fix everything that’s wrong here in Iowa? No. I think it is a good start.”
“It’s really primary and the foundation for health, and when the legislature puts so much emphasis on mental health, it shows people who are experiencing mental illness that their needs are important,” said Richard Whitaker, Ph.D., the CEO of Vera French.
“This is the start. Hopefully, more and more schools take on more trainings and Iowa moves up to one of the best mental health trainings in the nation,” Mike Cameron with Cameron Carico +Ten Foundation said.