CEDAR RAPIDS — Governor Reynolds has signed a bill into law that will create a new, merged system to provide mental health services and substance use treatment to Iowans.

“To build a system to change lives for the better,” Reynolds said during a bill signing ceremony in Cedar Rapids.

The state currently has 13 regions to provide mental health treatment and another 19 regions to serve people with substance use disorders.

“The result is duplicative and inconsistent programs statewide, an inefficient system and — worst of all — poor outcomes,” Reynolds said, “and we can do better for Iowans in need and we are. We will.”

Seven Behavioral Health Districts will be established. Iowa Department of Health and Human Services director Kelly Garcia said they’re working on the timeline to complete the merger by mid-2025.

“For the first time we will have an intentionally planned system that includes, in statute, prevention, treatment and recovery,” Garcia said.

Reynolds signed the bill at Foundation 2 Crisis Services in Cedar Rapids. Emily Bloome, the C-O of the organization, said the merger is a step in the right direction, “to help individuals achieve stability and remain mentally well.”

The law gives the state authority to manage the unified system and state officials may choose a public or a private agency to lead each of the districts.

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