‘Trauma Mamas’ call for more mental health services in visit to Statehouse
1:28 PM, Jan 22, 2014 | by Jason Noble |
A group of Iowa women calling themselves the Trauma Mamas visited the Statehouse Wednesday to highlight the need for increased funding for children’s mental health services.
The four women described their experiences caring for adopted children with extreme mental health conditions including Reactive Attachment Disorder, in which children who have suffered traumatic early lives act out violently and manipulatively and must be constantly monitored.
Trauma Mama Donna Petersen, of Denver, Iowa, speaks on the need for higher state mental health funding. At right is state Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames.
Their experiences have convinced them of the need for enhanced state aid, including respite services for caregivers, better local options for counseling and residential treatment and assistance with environmental modifications that allow children to remain at home.
The state offers such services under its Medicaid health-care program, but underfunding has created lengthy waitlists. More than 1,600 children are currently waiting for services, a backlog that delays access for nearly two years.
State Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, said Democrats will seek an $8.7 million appropriation in the state budget this year to expand services and eliminate waitlists for children’s mental health and other services in the Medicaid program.
The Trauma Mamas who appeared at the Capitol on Wednesday described such funding as likely cost-savers in the long run, since children with critical mental health disabilities often end up needing more expensive services or in prison.
“Anytime we get to this things sooner and it’s more preventative, we can have a better outcome long-term,” said Alissa Tschetter-Siedschlaw, one of the Trauama Mamas.
Tschetter-Siedschlaw, described having to send one of her adopted children to a residential facility in Wisconsin, an attempt at treatment that only exacerbated the child’s condition by separating him from his mother and the stability of home.
Another, Donna Petersen, expressed frustration with the availability of counselors and mental health professionals who can treat kids with severe mental illness, and the difficulty of getting insurance coverage for those that are available.
The group is comprised of about 20 women from the Waterloo area who found each other and built up their organization simply by meeting one another in waiting rooms and sharing their experiences.
The number of families impacted by children is extreme and potentially violent mental illnesses would surprise many, said group member Kim Jensen.
“When you have 20 moms who just happened to run into each other that have this level of violence in their homes, think about the moms still in that community that we haven’t even begun to connect with,” Jensen said. “To us, that’s scary.”