eastern iowa mental health

CLINTON — The Eastern Iowa Mental Health Region hopes to use CARES Act funds for outreach in schools in the five counties within the region.

Eastern Iowa Mental Health Region CEO Lori Elam CEO said this week that the management team plans to meet next week to discuss possible uses of CARES Act funds for the region as a whole.

The team will focus on advertising for crisis services the region has and how to access them, Elam said.

Cedar County Governing Board Representative Dawn Smith suggested the region implement a program for mental health outreach related to COVID-19 at schools in Cedar, Clinton, Jackson, Muscatine and Scott counties, the five counties in the Eastern Iowa Mental Health Region.

“ACT tests are different,” Smith said. “They’re not having homecoming. They’re not having prom. Maybe they have ball games and maybe they don’t. Sometimes kids are doing school at home and that’s not always an easy thing for them.”

Smith believes it may be a nice program to have available to help students handle stress and depression. She does not know if the schools have the funding to implement a similar program, she said.

“They’re worried about grade-point averages,” Smith said. “They’re worried about all of these things because they’re not getting enough in-class time. Their world’s looking a lot different.”

Smith noted that, due to the “time crunch” limits on the funding, the region is limited in the time it could implement the program. One of the region’s providers would already need to have a program in place they could use to offer the program, Smith said.

Jackson County Representative Jack Willey supported the initiative.

“My grandchildren are going to school and there’s a lot of stress there with the kids,” Willey said. “Some are going virtually. Some are going face to face. And there’s still that fear.”

Elam said the Region should ask some of its Area Education Agency partners if they had conversations about implementing a similar program. As long as the region can tie it to people with disabilities and COVID-19, the region may be able to participate in some of the funding, Elam said. Disabilities include intellectual disabilities and mental health, she said.