WRITER: JENNIFER DUFF
CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
UI study finds discrepancy in funding for mental retardation vs.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa psychiatrist reports that a
survey of Iowa county boards of supervisors finds that there is a discrepancy
in the funding for mental retardation versus the funding for mental illness.
Dr. Barbara Rohland, UI assistant professor of psychiatry, says that
the state of Iowa mandates services for persons with mental retardation
but not for those with mental illness. Between September and November of
1995, members of 98 of 99 Iowa county boards of supervisors were interviewed
to determine attitudes and beliefs about funding services for persons with
mental illness compared to those with mental retardation.
Nearly all respondents in the survey believed mental illness is treatable
and those persons can become well, whereas people with mental retardation
"Often people are less willing to help persons with mental illness
because they don't understand that serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia,
are often debilitating diseases that can cause people to be unable to take
care of themselves for long periods of time, or even a lifetime,"
Rohland says this study is important because it shows that Iowans fund
different amounts of money and spend money for different types of services
depending on whether the care is for persons with mental retardation or
"This study suggests that people feel a different level of responsibility
to provide for the basic needs of food and shelter for people with mental
retardation versus mental illnesses," Rohland says.
Rohland hopes the study makes people examine their own beliefs about
what they think is important in making decisions about the protection and
needs of people with mental illnesses.
"I hope that when people think about these issues, they will work
harder to develop ways in which the needs of persons with mental illness,
in addition to the needs of people with mental retardation, are met,"
The results of the study were published in the January 1998 issue of