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Digging Deeper: ‘State of Depression’

If you or a loved one suffers from mental illness, finding help can be a struggle in parts of the Tri-States.

Access to mental health care is dwindling in many rural areas.

It’s 7:30 a.m. at the Sage house, as Bryan and his 14-year-old daughter Chloe get ready for school. Routine is everything for Chloe.

"Her diagnosis is autistic and MR which is mildly retarded," Sage said. 

Chloe is a student at Keokuk High School. Her dad drops her off everyday. She’s on a precise schedule because if something is off, she will act out.  

"(She can act out by) pushing someone away or taking someone’s food or something like that." Sage said. "It’s all stuff that if you have the right kind of interventions, it could be mitigated."

Sage said getting that needed treatment is tough in southeast Iowa, especially in Lee County.

"We’ve got to go to Iowa City to get anything official for a diagnosis," Sage said. "Apparently, you can’t get that at your local doctor’s office." 

Peggy Huppert, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Iowa, said statistics clearly show the problem in the state. 

"One in five Americans are diagnosed with some type of mental illness every year," Hupert said. "That’s 600,000 Iowans diagnosed every year."

Huppert said around 137,000 of those 600,000 people are diagnosed with chronic and serious mental illness.

"Iowa ranks last in the country in available state impatient mental health beds," Huppert said. "We’re in the bottom five in the country in available psychiatrists."

According to Huppert, there are currently 64 state mental health beds and 120 psychiatrists in the state.

Digging Deeper into this, Don Dwyer went to the state capitol in Des Moines where Iowa Department of Human Services officials said they’ve made a lot of changes. Three years ago, they created regional offices across the state.

"Those 14 regions have developed access to a core set of services that help residents with mental illness and other disabilities," Iowa Bureau Chief of Mental Health Services Theresa Armstrong said. "They are developing additional services to compliment their system." 

The southeast Iowa location is in Keokuk. CEO Ryanne Wood said the program is still in its infancy. 

"We have had significant growth in services that are available to everybody within our eight county region," Wood said. 

But, Sage said the growth in services needs to happen sooner rather than later. 

"This is very annoying," Sage said. "We had some trouble with aggressive behavior and if we go to Iowa City and get into the program it’s going to take 7-8 months to wait."

Another struggle in the region is caused by the closure of the Mt. Pleasant mental institution.

The facility used to house dozens of patients and had a drug controlled substance program in Southeast Iowa, but it’s been closed for two years since the governor at the time, Terry Branstad, shut it down.

A recent report shows that bed numbers in facilities just like this one are up. Which prompts the question, should they have closed this facility in the first place?

"We’ve seen it as a missing aspect in the array, realizing that our focus is on community based care," Armstrong said. "But you still need in patient hospitalization and the dual diagnosis, because it’s a huge issue."

Armstrong said the cost savings was the main reason for closing the facility. But she said funding isn’t everything. 

"It’s not that simple," Armstrong said. "We need to develop the array of services of services. And part of that is getting providers and individual staff that is confident in their work."

But it matters to parents like Sage and others. He said his insurance doesn’t cover mental illnesses and is on medicaid for Chloe. 

"She would not be able to get the support herself," Sage said. "She would more likely be homeless, in jail or in the hospital." 

Despite all the hardships, Sage said he has a special relationship with his daughter. 

"I get kisses when she goes to school and when she gets up in the morning," Sage said." That’s huge for me."

"I could have the worst day in the world, and go home to her and everything washes away," he added.

For more information, go to The NAMI national information helpline is 1-800-950-NAMI.



Missouri Department of Mental Health
Division of Behavioral Health
1706 East Elm Street
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: 573-751-8017

Mark Twain Behavioral Health
917 Broadway Street
Hannibal, MO 63401
(573) 221-2120

Comprehensive Health Systems Inc
12677 Heavenly Acres Drive
New London, MO 63459
(573) 248-1372


Illinois Department of Human Services
600 East Ash Street, Building 500
Springfield, IL 62703
Phone: 217-782-0071

Schuyler Counseling and
Health Services
127 South Liberty Street
Rushville, IL 62681
(217) 322-4373

Blessing Hospital
Behavioral Health
1005 Broadway Street
Quincy, IL 62305
(217) 223-8400
Intake: (217) 223-1200

205 South 24th Street
Quincy, IL 62301
(217) 222-0034
Intake: (217) 222-0034×420

Family Solutions
2272 Chestnut Street
Quincy, IL 62301
(217) 223-7492

Transitions of Western Illinois
Community Villa
1529 Locust Street
Quincy, IL 62301
(217) 224-7438
Intake: (217) 223-0413×326

Transitions of Western Illinois
South Campus
4409 Maine Street
Quincy, IL 62305
(217) 223-0413


Iowa Department of Human Services
Division of Mental Health & Disability Services
1305 East Walnut Street
5th Floor SE
Des Moines, IA 50319-0114
Phone: 515-281-7277

Counseling Associates
1522 Morgan Street
Keokuk, IA 52632
(319) 524-0510
Intake: (319) 372-7689


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