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Western Iowa Mental Health Region Won't Break Up After Taking In New Member

Courtesy of Iowa Department of Human Services
A map of Iowa's mental health regions.

A mental health region in western Iowa won’t disband now that its two remaining counties are taking in a neighbor to the north.

Iowa’s 14 mental health regions coordinate local services by pooling county resources to better reach all residents. State law requires each region to include at least three counties.

Woodbury County is leaving the Sioux Rivers region next July, following disagreements among the counties that tainted their ability to work together. That left Plymouth and Sioux Counties looking at other options.

They considered joining a larger region. But Plymouth County supervisor Don Kass said Lyon County reached out, and they saw an opportunity to bring them in.

“That way we could remain a region with the three-county requirement and still maintain autonomy,” Kass said.

Plymouth and Sioux Counties looked into joining Northwest Iowa Care Connections, a region to the east that has five counties, including Lyon. Speculation that other counties were trying to join as well had them worried that they wouldn’t have the same voting authority as they do in a three-county region, Kass said.

But Mark Behrens, a Lyon County supervisor, said that possibility was put on hold at the Northwest Iowa Care Connections Governance Board meeting Tuesday, when it was announced Lyon County would leave. Behrens said when his county talked about approaching the Sioux Rivers board, he was one of two supervisors who voted against it in a three to two vote.

Behrens, who is on care connection’s governance board, said he wanted Plymouth and Sioux to join care connections because Lyon had good standing in that region and any services Plymouth and Sioux bring in would be close to Lyon, since the two counties are directly to the south.

But he says most of the services in the two are similar, like accessible jail diversion services, so when Lyon joins Sioux Rivers, it should be a smooth transition for their residents who need help in anything mental health-related.

I don’t see a lot of changes in that,” Behrens said, on the services. “There might be a few services that are different from the region we were in to this one but we’ll deal with that and get stuff worked out on how that’s all going to go in the future.”

Lyon will join Plymouth and Sioux Counties in their region next July 1.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.