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Disability Rights Iowa sues state over ‘inadequate mental health resources’

DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) – A disability rights advocacy group is suing the state.

The lawsuit alleges Iowa has failed to provide adequate mental health resources.

Catherine Johnson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, said about 87,000 children in Iowa have been diagnosed with mental health issues.

Johnson said she thinks we’re at a real crisis point with our mental health system for our youth.

A report from 2021 cited Iowa as 41st in the nation for providing mental health care for people ages 12 to 17.

The lawsuit alleges Iowa has failed to provide medically necessary services in an inclusive setting.

“They’re being unnecessarily placed in positions where they have to go to hospitals and sit in the ER for hours at a time,” Johnson said. “And being told, we don’t know how to help you, there is no help for you here.”

The Iowa Department of Human Services declined to comment about the lawsuit.

Officials did say they remain committed to serving all Iowans with special health care needs, especially children.

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