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New Campaign Urges Iowans to End Mental Health Stigma: It's "Brain Health" Not "Mental Illness"

Brain Health in DSM

March 23, 2021

Brain health struggles can affect people of all ages and backgrounds at any time. In fact, more than 50 million Americans, or roughly one in every five individuals, are living with brain health disorders. End the Stigma Promo

End the Stigma

Words are powerful and can have profound implications to those on the receiving end. Brain Health Iowa, a new statewide campaign from the Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) Regions, is focused on ending the stigma surrounding mental illness for more than 600,000 Iowans who have experienced or are currently experiencing brain health challenges such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD and more.

Through the Brain Health Iowa campaign, the Iowa MHDS Regions advocate for Iowans struggling with brain health disorders, letting them and others know — it’s “brain health,” not “mental illness.” If we can swap “brain health” for “mental illness” in our everyday vocabulary and consider the benefits of brain health as a component of overall health, we can help those who struggle with brain health disorders.

You’re Not Alone 

If you’re struggling with brain health concerns, please know you’re not alone and help is available. Our MHDS Regions, through the Brain Health Iowa campaign, are helping Iowans take control of their brain health and end that stigma that keeps individuals from talking about their struggles.

The Brain Health Iowa campaign also aims to improve access to resources for Iowans struggling with brain health challenges. Iowa MHDS is made up of 14 regions that work with care providers across our state to ensure that a range of affordable, well-organized and high-quality services are available for Iowans, whenever and wherever they need support. Resources address concerns about brain health, personal wellbeing, developmental disabilities, addiction and more. Those struggling with brain health can be connected to a 24/7 crisis line, mobile crisis response teams for in-person support, counseling and therapy sessions, peer support groups, physical therapy, supported housing, job development, service coordination and much more. Many of these services are free.

Brain Health Iowa Campaign

Local Resources

In Polk County, approximately 6,500 central Iowans with brain health concerns, intellectual or other developmental disabilities are served by the Polk County MHDS Region. The Polk County Board of Supervisors created Polk County Health Services (PCHS) in 1976 to develop and oversee a local network of services and support for people who have disabilities. Today, PCHS remains a private, nonprofit organization, governed by a community board committed to offering effective and responsive local services.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Mae Hingtgen

Mae Hingtgen is the CEO for MHDS of the East Central Region. Mae has spent her career as an advocate and believes in every person's fundamental right to dignity and respect. She supports an array of services for children and adults, so they can be healthy, productive and contributing citizens.