KNOXVILLE – In Iowa, more than 120,000 people live with serious mental health issues and 80,000 Iowa youth cope with severe emotional disorders. Yet Iowa has fewer psychiatric beds and mental health professionals than nearly every state in the nation. Many who need hospitalization are turned away or sent out of state with no transportation back.

Poor mental health and the dangers that can accompany it can be more effectively addressed; however, we are failing as both a nation and state in providing the right care in the right place at the right time. This means many of the mentally ill end up in emergency rooms; or tragically, in our jails. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that nearly 15 percent of men and 30 percent of women booked into jails have a serious mental health condition. That’s about two million Americans each year.

Iowa is in need of a full care continuum in behavioral health that includes sub-acute services, crisis intervention, crisis homes, nursing facility care and community-based services. With that infrastructure in place, more hospital inpatient psychiatric beds will become available for patients who truly need them, while patients needing less intensive care will receive it close to home. Properly investing in these more efficient and effective resources will put our state on a path to reduce behavioral health care costs in the long run.

In the upcoming legislative session, Knoxville Hospital & Clinics and the Iowa Hospital Association will be advocating for increased behavioral health care access across the continuum to help relieve the systemic bottleneck that has patients languishing in hospital beds or jails. Iowans are encouraged to become more informed about the mental health services crisis in the state and engage in the legislative process to seek change.

Knoxville Hospital & Clinics, a Critical Access Hospital serving Marion County and the surrounding area, is dedicated to providing personal, progressive quality health care with compassion.  For more information regarding this release and other happenings at Knoxville Hospital & Clinics, call the Public Relations office at (641) 842-1418 or visit www.knoxvillehospital.org.