Iowa can be guiding light when it comes to addressing mental health services

by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Mental health is an issue that concerns nearly everyone. Whether it is an individual suffering from anxiety or depression or a loved one struggling with a mental illness, it is imperative we continue to look at being able to deliver vital services to our fellow Iowans.

When meeting with mental health professionals and advocates, there are two areas they stress require immediate attention: developing a sustainable funding source for mental health services and creating a children’s mental health program for our state.

Make no mistake about it, we all understand the sense of urgency this requires. Children are tragically taking their own lives. Our communities and providers are struggling with the financial resources needed to deliver services. When you add in a growing number of people battling an illness, it is important to make this among our top priorities this legislative session.

However, addressing the sustainable funding source and creating a children’s program does come with some challenges. For decades, property taxes have been relied upon to help counties fund their mental health needs. As property tax obligations continue to rise for many Iowans, it is important to research alternatives and not place even more of a burden on property taxpayers. A state children’s mental health program would need to be created from scratch. Let me say, I believe we have capable people at the Statehouse who have a willingness and desire to accomplish both.

Senate Republicans continue to strive to keep Iowa the best state in the nation. Addressing these mental health needs should not be any different. I believe Iowa can lead the way in this area as well and be a guiding light for other states to follow.