If you need someone to talk to, please call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org, YOU matter.  

A national mental health advocacy organization has released a report on the implementation of the 988 crisis line for individuals experiencing mental health emergencies. 

How did Iowa do?

Iowa received high marks in the report but faces ongoing questions about how to fund the service. The report called for Iowa and other states to enhance 988 call-center capacity, increase the number of mobile mental health response units, establish more crisis stabilization centers, and find sustainable funding solutions. 

Iowa nearly achieved its goal of answering 90% of calls in a timely manner and is working on expanding its network of mobile response teams. 

The chief advocacy officer of the organization stressed that 988 mental health services should be available to everyone, 24/7, regardless of their ability to pay, similar to emergency services like fire trucks and police, which do not require insurance information before providing help. 

Iowa is exploring several funding options for the 988 service, including a surcharge on phone bills, billing commercial insurance, or seeking funds from the federal Medicaid program. 

The advocacy officer emphasized the importance of effective communication among mental health professionals, emergency responders, and police, noting that in mental health emergencies, a failed response can have severe consequences. 

The report highlighted that one in five fatal police shootings involves individuals with mental illness, often resulting in tragic outcomes when proper help is not provided. 

According to the report, a 98-cent surcharge on phone service in Iowa could generate more than $3 million annually. The report also addresses the need for accountability in the 988 system, regardless of the chosen funding mechanism. 


Mental Health Statistics and Trends in Iowa 

Here’s a comprehensive overview of mental health rates and trends in Iowa based on the latest available data: 

1. Prevalence of Mental Health Issues 

  • Adults with Mental Illness: According to the 2022 Behavioral Health Barometer for Iowa, approximately 17.5% of adults in Iowa reported experiencing a mental illness in the past year. This rate aligns with national trends where around 17% of adults report a mental health condition. 
  • Serious Mental Illness: About 4.8% of adults in Iowa reported having a serious mental illness that substantially interfered with their daily functioning in the past year. 
  • Youth Mental Health: Data from the Iowa Youth Survey shows that 15.1% of high school students in Iowa reported feeling depressed most of the time, and 12.2% seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. 

2. Mental Health Access and Services 

  • Access to Care: In a recent survey, about 62% of Iowans reported having access to mental health services when needed, which is slightly higher than the national average of 60%. However, there are still concerns about the adequacy of service availability, particularly in rural areas. 
  • Crisis Services: Iowa has made strides in expanding crisis services. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline has been implemented, and the state is working on expanding mobile crisis units and crisis stabilization centers. Recent reports indicate that Iowa is close to meeting its goal of answering 90% of 988 calls in a timely manner. 

3. Mental Health Funding 

  • State Budget: In recent years, Iowa has allocated increasing funds to mental health services. For the fiscal year 2024, the state budget includes approximately $89 million for mental health services, up from $80 million in FY 2023. 
  • Surcharge Proposal: A proposed 98-cent surcharge on phone service is estimated to generate over $3 million annually to support 988 services and other mental health initiatives. 
  • Federal Funding: Iowa also seeks support from federal programs, including Medicaid, to bolster mental health services. 

4. Impact of Mental Health Services 

  • Emergency Responses: Effective mental health crisis interventions are crucial. Nationally, one in five fatal police shootings involves individuals with mental illness, highlighting the need for well-coordinated emergency responses. 
  • Community Outcomes: There has been a focus on improving community mental health outcomes through better crisis intervention and expanding access to mental health services. 

5. Mental Health Stigma and Education 

  • Awareness Campaigns: Iowa has ongoing public education campaigns aimed at reducing stigma around mental health issues and encouraging individuals to seek help. 
  • Training Initiatives: There are also efforts to increase training for first responders, including police and emergency medical services, to better handle mental health crises. 

Recent Trends and Challenges 

  • Rural Mental Health Services: One of the ongoing challenges is providing mental health services in rural and underserved areas. Efforts are underway to address these gaps, including telehealth services and mobile crisis units. 
  • Workforce Shortages: Like many states, Iowa faces a shortage of mental health professionals, which affects the availability of services across the state. 

Resources and Contacts 

For more information or to access mental health services in Iowa, the following resources may be helpful: 

  • Iowa Department of Health and Human Services: Iowa DHHS 
  • Iowa Crisis Line: Call 1-844-258-8858 for mental health support. 

These statistics and trends provide a snapshot of the current state of mental health in Iowa, reflecting both progress and areas needing improvement. 


  1. 2022 Behavioral Health Barometer for Iowa 
  1. Iowa Youth Survey 
  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness - Iowa 
  1. Iowa Department of Health and Human Services 

This overview provides a solid foundation for understanding the mental health landscape in Iowa, including current issues, funding efforts, and service availability. 

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