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Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

Division of Mental Health and Disability Services - Overview


What does MHDS do?

MHDS is responsible for planning, coordinating, monitoring, improving and partially funding mental health and disability services for the State of Iowa. The division engages in a wide variety of activities that promote a well-coordinated statewide system of high quality disability-related services and supports including:

Setting disability policy

The division provides leadership and sets the direction of state policy for the system of mental health and disability services for Iowa. MHDS plans for and oversees the provision of disability-related services for children and adults with a wide range of disability conditions, including mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and brain injury. MHDS is the designated State Mental Health Authority. It is responsible for statewide planning and oversight of mental health services and distribution of federal funds received through the Community Mental Health Block Grant.

Service coordination

The division works with counties, advisory and planning councils, other DHS programs, and other state agencies to coordinate services. We provide staff support to the Mental Health and Disability Services Commission; the Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council; and the Olmstead Consumer Task Force, and welcome input from individuals and families.

Quality review

The division works with service providers to assure quality by setting standards for certain facilities and services that are provided to adults and children with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities and brain injury and evaluating how well those standards are met through an accreditation process.

Managing grants and contracts

The division distributes and oversees the use of federal and state funding through contracts with providers or other agencies that offer services or coordinate projects that promote the division's goals.

System Values

Respectful of the individual and culturally competent:

  • Individual strengths and skills are emphasized.
  • Recovery and self-determination are promoted.
  • Individual human rights are protected.
  • Services and supports are provided in a culturally competent manner.

The Department of Human Services and the Division of Mental Health and Disability Services are committed to the values of choice, empowerment, and community for all Iowans.

  • The state mental health and disabilities service system supports individuals in exercising their own choices about the services they receive and empowering them to accept responsibility, exercise choices, and take risks.
  • Disability services must be individualized, person-centered, and flexible to produce measurable results, and be cost-effective.
  • Disability services must be provided in a way that supports the ability of individuals with disabilities to live, learn, work, and recreate in communities of their choice.

Guiding Principles

Consumer and Family Driven

  • Individuals and their families take the lead in identifying service and support needs and are fully involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating the effectiveness of services and supports.
  • Unique individual and family strengths, needs, choices and preferences are the basis for services and support planning and delivery.
  • Services are welcoming, accessible, comprehensive, and responsive to the needs of the individual.

Community-Based, High Quality, and Results Oriented

  • Services are community based, high quality, accessible, and effective services.
  • Quality services encourage and support the development of each individual's abilities and minimize intrusion in or disruption of the individual's life. Housing is affordable, decent, safe, stable, and maximizes community integration and opportunities for community involvement.
  • Evidence-based practices, training, and research are supported and utilized.
  • Focus is placed on outcomes and the prevention of the need for more costly or restrictive services and supports.

MHDS staff contact information