The independent student newspaper of Iowa State and Ames since 1890

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Ames mental health calls for service increase 32% in 2023

Ames experienced a 32.3% increase in 2023 in mental health calls for service to the communications center and the follow-up to these calls, according to the city.

The 3,600 calls in 2023 include communication with family members, providers, clerk of court, attorneys and other resources. This communication is usually done by the Ames Mental Health Advocates (ARCH).

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five adults, or roughly 600,000 Iowans, live with some form of mental illness. While this is an issue around the state, there has been an increasingly higher amount of mental health issues reported in Ames.

Ames Mayor John Haila said he believes the most important thing to help Ames reduce its mental health calls for service starts in the home.

“Change starts with community and through education, advocacy, prevention and action,” Haila said. “Knowing the signs and symptoms of a mental health or substance use disorder is only the beginning. Knowing how to respond or learning how to start a conversation with someone who is struggling may save a life or begin the process of recovery for someone.”

Sgt. Amber Christian of the Ames Police Department responded on behalf of Ames Police Chief Geoff Huff about what their department thought could be behind the increase in calls.

“Many media platforms know that consumers have an 11-second attention span, and the information and stories need to ‘catch’ the attention of the consumer,” Christian stated in an email to the Daily. “Some platforms may have a very negative, fear-based tone which can play on the fears and anxieties of the consumer, thus continuing to fuel an already anxious brain to become more traumatized and desensitized.”

Christian also mentioned the department has seen a steady increase in calls since the COVID-19 pandemic in regard to the aftereffects of depression, isolation and anxiety in addition to an increase in substance use and suicidal ideations.

At the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year in August, there were 17 mental health calls to the Iowa State University Police Department, an increase of 15 compared to August of the previous year.

The Ames City Council has launched multiple objectives in response to the rise in reports of mental health issues in the community in the past several years. In part, Ames has hosted a Community Conversations series to discuss issues of mental health, and raise awareness of issues and foster discussion and what someone who is aware of an issue can do to assist those struggling.

Haila said it was important to engage in dialogue and partnership with the Ames community. One of the Ames City Council’s projects to improve mental health resources in the community has been sponsoring and facilitating Mental Health First Aid Training classes in the spring and summer of 2023.

The classes are aimed to equip the community on how to talk to those with mental health issues and where to refer them to get help. The training classes have been offered at the Mary Greeley Medical Center, Ames Community School District for the City of Ames staff and at Iowa State University. Some of these places also offered classes prior to and after 2023.

Mental health resources that can be used by community members and are recommended by the Ames Police Department are the 988 Suicide and Crisis Line, ARCH and Mobile Crisis.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Iowa State Daily
$2650
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of the Iowa State Daily. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, send our student journalists to conferences and off-set their cost of living so they can continue to do best-in-the-nation work at the Iowa State Daily.

More to Discover
Donate to Iowa State Daily
$2650
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Iowa State Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *