Support children's health and wellness
It’s important to help the children in your life be healthy, both mentally and physically. Because the sooner children get the help they may need, the sooner they can thrive. Iowa offers many different programs and resources designed to support children’s mental health.
Early Intervention Programs
The foundation of a child's healthy mental development includes the ability to regulate and express emotions, form close personal relationships with other children and adults, and explore and learn from their environment. Iowa has several programs that are focused on the healthy development of children in their early childhood. More information on these programs can be found below:
1st Five: Iowa's 1st Five Healthy Mental Development initiative builds partnerships between physician practices and public service providers to enhance high quality well-child care. 1st Five promotes the use of developmental tools that support healthy mental development for young children during the first five years. By using a tool for all children that includes social-emotional developmental and family risk factors, providers are able to identify children at risk for developmental concerns that, if left untreated, could play out later in life.
Early ACCESS: The focus of Early ACCESS is to support parents to help their children learn and grow throughout their everyday activities and routines. Early ACCESS is available to infants and toddlers from birth to age 3 years who meet eligibility requirements.
EPSDT Care for Kids: EPSDT is the Early Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program for children who are enrolled in Medicaid. The focus of this program is to assure that eligible children ages birth through 20 years receive preventive health care services, including oral health care. In Iowa, the EPSDT program is called Care for Kids. EPSDT Care for Kids services are free to children enrolled in Medicaid.
Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) are designated by the Department of Human Services to provide mental health services for individuals of all ages regardless of funding. Each CMHC is designated to serve a specific area and are required to serve the following Iowans in their area:
- Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or with a mental health disorder
- Adults with a serious mental illness or chronic mental illness
- Children and youth with a serious emotional disturbance
- Any of the above who have a co-occurring disorder, including but not limited to substance abuse, intellectual disability, a developmental disability, brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, or another disability or special health care need
CMHCs provide the following services:
- Outpatient services
- 24-hour emergency services
- Day treatment, partial hospitalization or psychosocial rehabilitation services
- Community support services
- Consultation services
- Education services
Click here to find your local CMHC.
Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) Regions are the local entity responsible for administering Iowa's community-based, person-centered mental health and disability services system. The MHDS Regions are responsible for:
- Providing access to a full array of services including crisis services, inpatient and outpatient mental health services, and daily living supports
- Funding core services for individuals who meet regional eligibility criteria
- Connecting individuals to services and supports
Find your MHDS Region here.
Find your MHDS Regional CEO contacts here.
Find your MHDS Regional Coordinators of Disability Services here.
MHDS Regions have established regional websites that provide more information on the services and supports available in their counties. Regional websites are available below:
- Central Iowa Community Services
- County Rural Offices of Social Services
- County Social Services
- Eastern Iowa MHDS Region
- Heart of Iowa Region
- MHDS Services of the East Central Region
- Polk County Health Services
- Rolling Hills Community Services Region
- Sioux Rivers MHDS
- South Central Behavioral Health
- Southeast Iowa Link
- Southern Hills Regional Mental Health
- Southwest Iowa MHDS Region
Crisis services and other immediate resources
When you’re in the midst of a crisis, Your Life Iowa is here to walk beside you until your life is back on track. We can connect you to services and professionals trained in helping individuals manage their mental health challenges. You can always contact Your Life Iowa, but here are some additional ways you can get help.
Your Life Iowa provides information and referral, counseling, crisis service coordination, and linkages to crisis screening and mental health services 24 hours a day.
Crisis Screening is a process to determine what crisis response service is appropriate to resolve the presenting crisis.
Crisis Stabilization Community-Based Services are short-term services provided where the individual lives, works or socializes, designed to de-escalate a crisis and stabilize an individual following a mental health crisis.
Crisis Stabilization Residential Services are short-term living arrangements designed to de-escalate a crisis and stabilize an individual following a mental health crisis.
Mobile Response is an on-site, face-to-face mental health service for individuals experiencing a crisis. Mobile response staff are able to intervene wherever the crisis is occurring.
23 Hour Observation and Holding is a secure and protected, medically staffed, psychiatrically supervised treatment environment where eligible individuals can stay up to 23 hours.
Warm Line is a telephone line staffed by individuals with lived experience who provide nonjudgmental, nondirective support to an individual experiencing a crisis.
Youth mental health first aid
Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) teaches the public how to respond in a mental health emergency with youth and young adults, and how to offer support to a young person who appears to be in emotional distress.
Find more information on YMHFA here
Help the children and young adults in your life support their mental health by encouraging them to try some of these self-care activities:
- Take a walk outside.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Make yourself or have a parent or guardian make a meal that you enjoy.
- Re-read one of your all-time favorite books.
- Give someone a compliment – and then compliment yourself too.
- Play with a pet.
- Listen to a favorite music playlist.
- Take a hot shower or bath.
- It’s okay to say no – give yourself permission to choose how you spend your time, resources or energy.
- Think about 10 things you are thankful for.
- Spend a few minutes stretching and breathing deeply.
- Take a short break for a healthy drink or snack.
- Watch your favorite movie.
- Write yourself a letter about a few things that are bothering you – then throw it away.
- Call us at Your Life Iowa.
Brain injuries can be a multi-occurring condition with mental health concerns.
Brain injuries are often a multi-occurring condition with mental health concerns and thoughts of suicide. Screening for brain injury is a best practice when responding to, and/or planning clinical and community-based responses for clients in health, community, and corrections services. Brain injury screening tools can provide a brief assessment of a person's exposure to brain injury, but do not provide a diagnosis or indicate an absence of a brain injury. Learn more with the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa.
Want to find help on your own?
Your Life Iowa is always here to help you find resources near you. However, we understand that sometimes you’d like to look for help on your own. Our map will let you do just that.
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Are you, friends or family with someone who needs help with children's mental health?
Find out how Your Life Iowa can provide support for them -- and you.