Getting Mental Health Services

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

(NOTE: This resource is also available in a printer-friendly format to use as a handout. Click here for a pdf version.)

If you, a friend or family member needs help with a mental health problem, there are programs and facilities that can help.

Where can I get help paying for mental health treatment?

Iowa's Medicaid (or Title 19) program pays for many kinds of mental health treatment. You can call a provider (psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed therapist or community mental health centers) to see if they accept Medicaid and make an appointment. You can apply for Medicaid at any Department of Human Services Office. See the online map of DHS office locations or call 1-800-972-2017 to find an office near you. Find out more about Medicaid on the Iowa Legal Aid Website.*

The hawk-i program also pays for mental health treatment for some children. You can apply for your child at any Department of Human Services Office and can find the office nearest you by calling 1-800-972-2017. Find out more about hawk-i on the Iowa Legal Aid Website.*

Each county pays for some mental health services in Iowa. Talk to the C.P.C. (Central Point of Coordination) in your county. Each Iowa county pays for different services.

The Sowing the Seeds of Hope program pays for mental health help for farm families. Call the Iowa Concerns Hotline (1-800-447-1985) for a confidential referral.

How can I find a facility that can help me?

Iowa's community mental health centers provide mental health treatment for free or on a sliding scale basis. Some larger counties, like Polk County, have extensive mental health services for people without insurance.

Hospital emergency rooms are required to help all medical emergencies, including serious mental health problems. Hospitals must provide emergency treatment even if you do not have insurance or money to pay the bill.

If you know someone who needs treatment for a serious mental health or substance abuse problems and is likely to injure themselves or others, you can ask a judge to commit the person. Start the civil commitment process by filling out forms at your local clerk of court office or contact law enforcement offices when the clerk's office is closed. People who are committed have the right to a court-appointed attorney, the right to request a second opinion and the right to file an appeal of a commitment order. A mental health advocate should also be in contact with anyone committed to make sure they are getting the treatment they need.

Where can I get more information about mental health care?

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) helpline has information on mental illnesses and referrals to local self-help groups. The local groups give support and advocacy and offer education and information about community services for families and individuals:

5911 Meredith Drive, Suite E
Des Moines, IA 50322-1903
Phone: 515-254-0417
Fax: 515-254-1103
Toll-free: 800-417-0417

* Get more information on the Iowa Legal Aid Website

Go to and click on the first blue box on the left for "Legal Information and Other Resources for Iowans." Then click on the topic "Health" and go to any of the subtopics for more information.

Last Review and Update: Jan 06, 2005

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