Polk County to announce new children’s mental health system

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DES MOINES, Iowa– Wednesday the Polk County Mental Health and Disability Services is hosting a press conference to announce their new programs catered to helping Iowa’s youth.

In 2019 Iowa lawmakers directed the Polk County Mental Health and Disability Services to develop a comprehensive children’s behavioral health system.

CEO of the Polk County MHDS, Liz Cox, said Wednesday’s press conference is really a celebration of how much they’ve accomplished within the last two years. 

“We as a community have worked really hard to put these services in place, and we need to stop and recognize and celebrate this next step,” Cox said. “We’ve got lots more steps to take, but it is worth noting that we have made this accomplishment together.” 

Things that the Iowa legislature required to be developed within this children’s behavioral health system include requiring development and access to crisis stabilization, a mobile mental health crisis response team, medication management, mental health assessments, and a 24-hour hotline for youth. 

Polk County already has some of these things in place, including access to therapy for children, prescription drugs, and a mobile crisis response team. 

Wednesday, they’ll be announcing plans to address a community-based crisis and residential crisis stabilization in intensive family services. Cox explained this is a program to help residents coming out of hospitalization to transition back into their community.

“This system of service that we’re building is a little bit of a rocket ship. And we’re going to the moon for these kids and their families. We’re building the rocket ship, we’re putting these services in place. What we’re short on is astronauts,” Cox said. “We don’t have enough mental health providers for children to serve the need. So that’s our next initiative. We are very focused on improving the accessibility of a workforce for our families.” 

The press conference will be held at Polk County River Place at 1:00 p.m.

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