# Mental Health



Linn County supervisors approve conversion therapy ban

The Linn County Board of Supervisors voted on June 13 to “prohibit any efforts by service providers to change sexual orientation and/or gender identity of minors, including conversion and reparative therapy,” in unincorporated areas of the county.

“Conversion therapy” refers to efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and has been widely discredited as ineffective and traumatizing for youth. Associations representing medical professionals, counselors, and therapists have denounced the practice for many years.

Supervisor Stacey Walker led efforts to pass the ordinance, and Supervisor Ben Rogers (also a Democrat) provided the second vote in favor. When the board considered the third and final reading, Walker said the policy “will save lives” and described it as “a moral imperative for all policymakers who take seriously their job of protecting the health and welfare of the people.”

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Cheerful cruelty belies governor's concern over kids' mental health

Self-awareness has never been Governor Kim Reynolds’ strong suit.

So it was that just this week, Reynolds asserted in an interview with the Des Moines Register that mental health “has been so important to me.” The governor lamented the pressures kids have faced over the past two years, “the depression, the anxiety,” adding, “We’ve seen suicide rates among young girls up over 50 percent” during the COVID-19 pandemic. She bragged about “working on mental health for five years” and “standing up a children’s mental health system.”

You’d never guess she just signed a bill that is guaranteed to increase depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among some of Iowa’s most vulnerable youth.

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Dare we hope

Ira Lacher: We need to pursue hope, and we must prioritize it over our other base emotions such as doubt, fear, and anger.

On a day when the news is filled with record COVID-19 infections, the anniversary of a revolt against American democracy, societal lawlessness, and myriad other ills of our time, it would be facile to begin 2022 with a screed about how lousy it sucks to be us.

Not going to happen.

Rather, on this occasion, at least, I leave it to others to begin 2022 by submerging their keyboards in despair. To paraphrase a speech from Captain James T. Kirk, “We can admit we’ve been doomsayers, but we’re not going to doomsay today.”

Today, let’s speak of hope. Of optimism. Of ways to take comfort of the undeniable miracle we call existence.

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America is mentally ill. Let's treat it

One in four American adults believe the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” One in four say they won’t get a COVID vaccine. About one in five Americans believe one or more QAnon conspiracy theories.

But it is interesting how closely those numbers correlate with this one: Nearly one in five Americans (52 million) “live with a mental illness.”

The evidence is mounting that our dysfunctional politics are the result of mass mental illness.

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Refunding Des Moines

Brandi Webber is a local artist, volunteer, mother, and candidate for Des Moines City Council in Ward 3. -promoted by Laura Belin 

A community’s priorities can be made visible by looking at the breakdown of the city budget. Looking at Des Moines’ city budget, you see that our largest single priority, at roughly 39 percent of spending, is policing.

With such a large portion of our budget devoted to policing, examining the effectiveness of police and their role in our community should be non-controversial. When we talk about “defunding the police,” many will conjure an image of a city in disarray as the pillars of society crumble to the ground. The reality is, our society relies too heavily on a policing system.

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Iowa delegation tries again to address military suicides (updated)

UPDATE: The U.S. Senate passed the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021 by unanimous consent on June 24, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on June 30. Original post follows.

From the earliest Memorial Day observances organized by freed slaves following the Civil War, this holiday has focused on remembering military service members who died in wars. More than 26,700 Iowans have died in wartime service, with the Civil War accounting for nearly half of the fatalities.

Far too many Americans with military backgrounds die by their own hands. Hundreds of active-duty troops and more than 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year. That death toll exceeds the total U.S. military fatalities in Iraq from 2003 to 2020.

Iowa’s members of Congress have tried again this spring to improve mental health services for veterans. Unlike in previous years, legislation named after Sergeant Brandon Ketchum made it through the U.S. House and now awaits action in the Senate.

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