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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Governor signs merger of mental health, substance abuse treatment regions

Governor signs merger of mental health, substance abuse treatment regions
 Governor Reynolds signed the bill creates seven behavioral health regions into law in Cedar Rapids at Foundation 2 Crisis Servies. (RI photo)
 

Governor Reynolds has signed a bill into law that will create a new, merged system to provide mental health services and substance use treatment to Iowans. 

"To build a system to change lives for the better," Reynolds says. The state currently has 13 regions to provide mental health treatment and another 19 regions to serve people with substance use disorders.

"The result is duplicative and inconsistent programs statewide, an inefficient system and -- worst of all -- poor outcomes," Reynolds says, "and we can do better for Iowans in need and we are. We will."

Seven Behavioral Health Districts will be established. Iowa Department of Health and Human Services director Kelly Garcia says they're working on the timeline to complete the merger by mid-2025.

"For the first time we will have an intentionally planned system that includes, in statute, prevention, treatment and recovery," Garcia says.

Reynolds signed the bill at Foundation 2 Crisis Services in Cedar Rapids. Emily Bloome, the C-E-O of the organization, says the merger is a step in the right direction.

"To help individuals achieve stability and remain mentally well," Bloome says. The law gives the state authority to manage the unified system and state officials may choose a public or a private agency to lead each of the seven districts.

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