Fundraiser at Uptown Bill’s ahead of NAMI’s Day on the Hill

Mental Health Awareness Night

Uptown Bill’s — Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

Ahead of a summit on Iowa’s capitol hill to lobby for mental health advocacy, local organizers have set up an event at Uptown Bill’s (730 S Dubuque St) showcasing music from Sarabeth Weszely, readings and information on mental health. The event begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21. All money received from donations will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Iowa.

The proceeds will fund a march on the state capitol building in Des Moines, in partnership with the Johnson County chapter of NAMI, Wednesday, March 29. Advocates will spend the morning learning about the ins and outs of mental health and awareness in the state. They will then take the conversation to state legislators in
the afternoon, urging for the advancement of mental health services.

Iowa certainly isn’t a state with abundant infrastructure to aid mental health — in fact, the state ranks last among all states, and the District of Columbia, in state psychiatric beds per capita, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center. Iowa has only 64 beds in state mental health hospitals; there are in total 731 beds both public and private for a population of just over 3 million. In July of 2015 Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed a bill to reinstate psychiatric beds in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant.

Iowa also ranks 47th in licensed professionals available to treat mental health, according to the same report. State legislators are now mulling a new bill proposed in the House, HSB 138, which would eradicate certification needed for professional services running the gamut from mental health counselors to social workers to hair stylists.

Entrance to the Uptown Bill’s fundraiser is a $5-10 suggested donation. In addition to Weszely’s performance, there will also be poetry and spoken word. Anyone interested in reading should contact Lucia McNeal at

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