October 7 to 13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. In 1990, Congress established the first full week in October as Mental Illness Awareness Week. According NAMI, to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans are affected by mental health conditions.

In 2018, NAMI is promoting the theme “CureStigma.” Stigma is toxic to mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment.

One of the challenges to seeking help and treatment is knowing what services are available and whom to contact. Ken Hyndman is the director/coordinator of Disability Services at Des Moines County Community Services (a member of the Southeast Iowa Link region).

I spoke to Ken about the services his office provides. According to Ken, residents of Des Moines County who have a mental illness diagnosis and need services beyond therapy and psychiatry can get service coordination through Counseling Associates IHH. One would need to fill out an application through Ken’s office and then his office would assist with making the referral to Counseling Associates. Ken also states often the region may assist eligible persons with funding to start IHH services more quickly. Des Moines County Community Services can be contacted at (319) 754-8556.

Ken also added anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis can go to the emergency department at Great River Medical Center at any time and see the Behavioral Health Assessment Team, which is available 24 hours a day. Patients of the Community Health Center of Southeast Iowa, can have an assessment completed at the health center. Des Moines County also has a 24-hour crisis line available, which can be reached at (877) 404-4770.

Des Moines County Community Services recently added a new program, the Recovery Center. This center is operated through collaboration between Optimae Behavioral Health, Des Moines County, and the Southeast Iowa Link region. The program is operated on a drop–in basis. Resources available include:

• A safe place where everyone is welcome and respected;

• Caring and professional certified peer support staff who are available to discuss concerns, worries or to just chat;

• Wellness Recovery Action Planning by certified staff;

• Numerous support groups, including women’s group, anxiety/depression, art and wellness, PTSD support, illness management and recovery.

According to Ken, participation in the Recovery Center is at no cost to participants and insurance is not required. There may be some cost for some of the optional activities. There is no pre-registration to come to the drop-in center. There is a staff member present during open hours to sign up. For more information, call (319) 237-1732.

Christa Poggemiller is director of Des Moines County Public Health. Her column appears in Currents the first Friday of each month.