Gov. Kim Reynolds

(Des Moines) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says the state will use a portion of its federal COVID-19 relief money to battle mental health issues caused by the pandemic.

Reynolds says she is directing $50 million of Iowa's $1.25 billion in federal funds to beef up the state's mental health services. She says the pandemic has caused stress on parents, children, business owners and others.

"With these kinds of disruptions in our lives and livelihoods, it's important for Iowans to be mindful of their mental health and to know that there's a place to go if they need help," said Reynolds.  "The last several months have made it more tempting to turn to behaviors that might distract us from the anxiety and the stressors, from online gambling to increased substance abuse or alcohol consumption.  It's critical there's a place to turn when we need help getting back to making healthy decisions for ourselves and our families."

Reynolds credited the state's mental health providers for keeping services running during the pandemic utilizing online platforms.

"Our mental health providers have really stepped up to the plate to deal with increased demand and the need to accelerate plans for telehealth, bringing critical mental health services online -- literally online, due in part to changes made by Medicaid, including an additional $5 million investment in telehealth," said Reynolds. 

Of the $50 million, Reynolds says 60% will go directly to the state's mental health regions, which are responsible for providing services.

"$30 million will be directed to the mental health regions to support ongoing adult and children's mental health services and to help cover the increased needs that have resulted from the pandemic," said Reynolds.

The rest of the funding will go to help cover increased costs incurred by other mental health providers in the state.

"We're also allocating $20 million to mental health and substance abuse providers to cover increased costs during this pandemic," said Reynolds.

Reynolds says pandemic has offered the state a chance to move forward when it comes to providing mental health services.

"In Iowa, we take obstacles and we turn them into opportunities," said Reynolds.  "We don't want to just weather the storm of COVID-19, we want to help our system innovate and adapt to the challenges the future holds."

In addition to the federal CARES Act money, FEMA is providing around $1 million to provide crisis counseling services to people impacted by the pandemic.

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