U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Improving Iowa's Response to Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $550,000)

This proposal is a collaborative effort between the Iowa State Court Administration/Supreme Court (SCA) and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to improve responses to individuals with mental health disorders/mental health substance use disorders (MHD/MHSUD). According to NAMI, 473,000 Iowans have a mental health condition. In February 2021, 42.2% of adults in Iowa experienced anxiety or depression with 25.4% not getting the needed treatment or therapy. In 2017, Iowa ranked last of all states in terms of psychiatric bed availability, with only 1.2 beds per 100,000 adults. Iowa closed two of its four state hospitals, exacerbating the bed shortage even more. Iowa ranks near the bottom at 47th in the number of psychiatrists licensed to provide care. A lack of community-based residential treatment facilities prevents release of some from inpatient care who would otherwise be ready for discharge, further crowding an already overloaded system.

This funding will expand work of the mental health planning committee bringing leaders and teams from the eight judicial districts together for a statewide mental health summit in June 2022 to learn about mental health initiatives across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) and collaborate to improve state and local responses for individuals with MHD/MHSUD. With the request of $550,000, SCA and DHHS propose to utilize JMHCP funding to develop a Mental Health Advisory Committee to provide approaches for cross-government/state agency coordination and collaboration on issues related to the intersection of mental health and criminal justice systems, develop practical tools to guide state funding and programming, provide recommendations for meaningful evidence-based and data-driven decision-making for improving the behavioral health system in Iowa, develop a statewide strategic plan, hire a Behavioral Health Manager within the SCA, conduct SIM workshops, and increase knowledge and collaboration in the state and local judicial districts to improve community-based behavioral health treatment. All strategic planning for program implementation will include interventions that divert individuals with MHD/MHSUDs from the courts and into community-based treatment, with preference for law enforcement diversion, evidence-based risk assessment and services, mental health courts, female-specific interventions, interventions to reduce recidivism, and transition and reentry services. The project will culminate in a statewide follow-up summit to share lessons learned.

This would be the first JMHCP award for the Iowa.

The National Center for State Courts will be contracted for technical assistance, program and documentation development, and Sequential Intercept Model mapping.

Date Created: September 27, 2022