IMS Looks to Improve Mental Health Delivery

Date of Publication October 12, 2017

Increasingly, physicians from diverse specialties are encountering issues with Iowa’s current mental health system. In recent months, IMS members have reported issues regarding the placement of elderly patients with dementia, involuntary holds for patients in need of psychiatric evaluations or substance abuse treatment, and ever-growing issues with access to local treatment programs, especially in rural communities.

Recently, the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Emergency Physicians (IA-ACEP) released a white paper outlining the issues encountered by its membership and offering a series of potential options to help improve the state of mental health delivery in Iowa. At this week’s IMS Committee on Law and Ethics meeting, physicians, and medical students from across the state discussed their experiences with the current system and the proposals put forward by IA-ACEP.

This in-depth discussion marked the first in a series of conversations IMS physicians will have in the coming weeks, as we look to identify the policy solutions most likely to make a meaningful impact in improving the system both in the short and long term. On October 31st, IMS will join representatives of the Iowa Hospital Association, the Behavioral Health Association, the judicial system, law enforcement, and other stakeholders in an all-day roundtable discussion regarding issues with Iowa’s current mental health system. This conversation is intended to help identify areas for collaboration as we work to collectively improve mental health and substance abuse treatment in our state.

At its October 25th meeting, the IMS Committee on Legislation will hold another discussion regarding the state of Iowa’s mental health system as part of a proposal that IMS focus on improvements to the system as a top legislative priority in 2018. This discussion will also help inform the larger coalition discussion on October 31st.

For more information on these efforts or for information on participating in the Committee on Legislation meeting, please contact Dennis Tibben with the IMS Center for Physician Advocacy.

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