Efforts to address youth mental health behind new clinic in Iowa City

The consensus is clear: Iowa youth need help addressing mental health.

At least, that’s the message from a panel of University of Iowa experts.

This fall, Iowa City will see the opening of a new school mental health clinic at 125 S. Dubuque St., staff from the Iowa Center for School Mental Health announced during Thursday’s meeting of Iowa’s Board of Regents.

The clinic is one component of the statewide, K-12 UI mental health center announced last summer. Besides clinical care, it aims to improve mental health via avenues like research and educator training.

“Our hope is to be able to go to schools after there has been a crisis or a trauma, and to be able to meet with students, staff — whoever’s in need — to provide some of that immediate support,” Alissa Doobay, director of clinical services for the ICSMH, told the regents on Thursday.

Members of the Iowa Center for School Mental Health present to the Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday on the University of Iowa campus.

Doobay described the need for counseling in Iowa as “bottomless.”

Sixteen percent of Iowans between ages 12-17 have a mental health disorder, staff from the ICSMH told the regents, but less than half receive treatment.

Meanwhile, a 2021 statewide survey found nearly one in four Iowa 11th-grade students, or 24%, reported attempting suicide in the past year. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Iowa adolescents.

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