Board of Regents approves Iowa Center for School Mental Health in UI College of Education

The Board of Regents approved the UI’s proposal to recognize the Iowa Center for School Mental Health as an official center. The center was initially established in the summer of 2021.


Katie Goodale

The Lindquist Center is seen on July 30, 2019.

Meg Doster, News Editor

The Board of Regents approved the University of Iowa’s proposal to establish the Iowa Center for School Mental Health in the UI College of Education.

In 2021, the Iowa Center for School Mental Health was announced as a partnership between the Iowa Department of Education and the UI to address the state’s mental health crisis. It functions as a research center that also provides resources.

Rachel Boon, chief academic officer for the Board of Regents, said after it became clear that the Iowa Center for School Mental Health would be a long term institution, it came time for the Board of Regents to approve it.

“When you’re going to make something that’s got established for a longer period of time,” she said, “then by policy, what we do then is run it through this process so that we then have some documentation that it was approved by the Board of Regents.”

According to the UI’s request for a new Center for School Mental Health, the pandemic only heightened the already rising mental health needs of students and teachers.

The Iowa Center for School Mental Health has a goal to establish mental health resources to K-12 schools and give educators training on how to help themselves and students struggling with mental health.

The proposal stated that its goals are to:

  1. Provide training to educators and anyone else seeking training on mental health education
  2. Research both the development and implementation of mental health practices, assessments, and interventions taking place in Iowa schools to better understand the best ways to go about implementing mental health services in Iowa classrooms
  3. Give mental health resources and immediate support to Iowa schools and educators
  4. Provide professional resources such as mental health outreach, intervention, and post-intervention services to higher education institutions such as the University of Iowa

The center has collaborated with other institutes at the UI such as the Carver College of Medicine, College of Nursing, and UI Hospitals and Clinics.

“This center is a perfect example of how our institution can work with our state government to meet the needs of people in our state,” Daniel Clay, the Dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Education, said at the meeting.

The center has been funded by a 20 million dollar grant from the Department of Education and by philanthropic donations. The request states that the primary focus of funding will be to receive research grants. While the center will be working from within the University of Iowa, it will consult with other institutions, such as the other regency-run Iowa schools Northern Iowa University and Iowa State University, and even those outside of Iowa.

The UI College of Education “has dedicated a suite of offices on the third floor of the Lindquist Center for center leadership and personal staff,” the request said. “Additional space has been secured to provide clinical services and clinical training on campus.”

According to the center’s webpage on the university’s site, 1 out of every 13 Iowa high school students have attempted suicide.

“The number of attempts and completed suicides have increased quite a bit in the last couple of years, especially with since the pandemic,” Alissa Doobay, an associate professor in Counseling Psychology at the University of Iowa, said. “But it was already trending upward before the pandemic. So it hasn’t gotten better in the last couple of months.”