DELMAR — Statewide mental health regionalization is shaping up nicely, according to Clinton County Supervisor Brian Schmidt.
As the county’s ambassador for the Eastern Iowa Mental Health/Disability Services region — comprising of Scott, Jackson, Cedar and Muscatine counties — Schmidt said administration is unifying the five counties while policy is catching up.
“It’s been a benefit for our county in working with other counties in our region,” Schmidt said during Wednesday’s meeting in Delmar. “We have each of the mental health directors in each of the counties working together to find needs to be addressed. It’s been a great help in just how they’ve worked together.”
Schmidt presented his counterparts new verbiage in the region agreement. State legislators changed certain mental health policies during their last session, undoing agreements that were previously adopted by Clinton and other counties.
The agreement aligns with what legislators spelled out, namely giving counties authority to pay bills from the region and establishing $10,000 per county for administration expenses regardless of size.
“We’re kind of walking in the dark until all the rules have been completely finalized,” Schmidt said. “It’s a fully established region right now, but only administratively.”
Schmidt and other officials meet on a monthly basis. The supervisors didn’t act on the changes, but are slated to do so by their July 7 meeting.
As for the next steps in regionalization, Schmidt said he’d like EIMH take steps toward implementing the new policies and a budget plan. He likes the fact that his county has more capabilities to address mental health issues than before. One example of this is peer support — a mentorship program for people requiring mental health services.
“The purpose of the region is to help make uniformity throughout the counties, which hasn’t been the case,” Schmidt said. “There are now services provided by one county provided in the region.”