Prioritize brain health during Mental Health Awareness Month

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Map of the Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services regions. Source: Iowa Department of Human Services.


This past year has forced many of us into difficult situations that have taxed our brain health. Many people who need help often don’t seek it because they don’t recognize their struggle or want to admit it. No one is alone in their path to brain health wellness. In fact, brain health struggles are more common in our community than you may think with one in five people experiencing a mental health illness during their lifetime.

In honor of Mental Health Month, the Heart of Iowa Community Services is making sure Iowans know some facts about brain health and understand why Iowans of all ages need support. The Heart of Iowa Community Services recently joined Iowa’s 13 other Mental Health and Disability Services Regions on an initiative to end the stigma against brain health struggles and to encourage Iowans to seek help and connect them to local services.

Maintaining your overall health is essential to be a healthy, active person. If you’re feeling sick, you go to the doctor or take medicine. Just as physical health needs are unique to each person, so are mental health needs. The brain is one of the most important parts of our body, and it’s normal to experience short-term or long-term brain health challenges.

Just as you would seek treatment when you’re sick, you also need to seek treatment for brain health challenges. Brain health affects our overall wellbeing, including physical health, and needs to be prioritized.

Mental Health America — the organization that initiated Mental Health Month — has great resources available to individuals struggling with their brain health. Some resources provide tips on practicing radical acceptance, processing trauma and stress, managing frustration and anger, coping with change and the worst-case scenario and prioritizing self-care.

They also have an online screening tool that helps determine if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of brain health struggles. You can learn more at MHANational.org.

Iowans also have resources available directly through the Heart of Iowa Community Services. We have many tools to help our communities thrive, especially during the pandemic. Many of these services are free.

Our experts can connect you or someone you know who is struggling with brain health with resources, including:

  • 24-Hour Crisis Services
  • Assertive Community Treatment
  • Brain Health Evaluations
  • Community Drop-In Centers
  • Counseling and Therapy
  • Day Habilitation
  • Drinking Driver Education Classes
  • Family Support
  • Gambling Addiction
  • Home and Vehicle Modification
  • Home Health Aids
  • Job Development
  • Peer Support Groups
  • Physical Therapy
  • Prevocational Services
  • Psychiatric Rehabilitation
  • Referrals
  • Substance Abuse Evaluations
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Supported Housing

Now is the time to prioritize your brain health, whether you’re facing short- or long-term challenges. Reach out to us at HICSIowa.org or by calling 877-286-3227.

Darci Alt, CEO of the Heart of Iowa Community Services, writes on behalf of the Iowa MHDS Regions.

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