Medicare Part B Recognition has been achieved!

After more than a decade of advocacy from various mental health organizations, licensed mental health counselors (LMHC) and licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT) are now recognized as Medicare providers!

The U.S. legislature recently passed the Omnibus package which includes language from the Mental Health Access Improvement Act that expands coverage of LMHCs and LMFTs services under Medicare Part B. The act is scheduled to take effect in January 2024. We’ll provide more information as it becomes available.

June 2022 Pride Month Focus

The powerful impacts of accepting versus rejecting parent behavior on their LGBTQ+ children’s health & well-being

by Doug Aupperle, licensed psychologist

Doug Aupperle, Ph.D. Click to read Doug’s bio

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that parents have a profound impact on how their children develop, grow, and function in the world. However, research on the LGBTQ+ population has traditionally been scarce, and research related to the youngest members of that population and their families has been even more so. The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) of San Francisco State University began to shed some light on that, though, with some groundbreaking research over a decade ago. Their findings show just how powerfully parent and caregiver responses to their LGBTQ+ children really do impact their children’s mental and physical health and well-being now and into adulthood.

The researchers have conducted interviews with hundreds of families over the years and identified more than 100 types behaviors exhibited in response to their LGBTQ+ children’s identities. They found that about half of these behaviors could be categorized as accepting and the other half as rejecting. Then they evaluated the effects of these behaviors to see how they impact their LGBTQ+ children, and what they found was striking.

The study found that often the parents who were engaging in responses categorized as rejecting were actually motivated by care and concern for their children. These parents often reported being afraid for their LGBTQ+ child’s safety and concerned that their child’s identity would result in a more difficult life. In other cases, how closely the parents’ identities were tied to their children’s drove parental rejecting behavior. Parents with high levels of such identification felt personal shame and embarrassment regarding their children’s LGBTQ+ identities. They also felt intolerable distress over how it challenged the parents’ views and beliefs.

Regardless of the parental motivations for engaging in the rejecting behaviors, though, the resulting impact on their children was still the same. Compared to LGBTQ+ children whose parents are highly accepting, the research showed that those whose parents are highly rejecting are:

  • 8 times as likely to attempt suicide;
  • 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression;
  • 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs;
  • 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs.

When parental rejecting responses decrease even somewhat to more mixed/moderately rejecting levels, the risks, though still serious, also decrease. Compared to those with highly accepting parents, LGBTQ+ children experiencing mixed/moderately rejecting parental responses are:

  • 2 times as likely to attempt suicide;
  • 3 times as likely to report high levels of depression;
  • 1.5 times as likely to use illegal drugs;
  • 1.5 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs.

Parent responses also profoundly shape their children’s hopes and dreams for their lives. Nearly all LGBTQ+ children in the study with extremely accepting parents believed they could live happy, productive lives as adults, while only about a third of those did whose parents were not at all accepting.

The bottom line is that for parents who want to know how to best support their LGBTQ+ children, seeking out the educational resources and community support to help them best do so may be a truly life-giving and life-saving gift to their children. For those parents who are conflicted and struggling, taking steps to be even a little less rejecting and a little more supportive can still significantly reduce the risks for their children. As the saying goes, every journey begins with a single step.

Some Family Behaviors that Increase Your LGBTQ+ Child’s Risk for Health and Mental Health Problems BEHAVIORS TO AVOID

  • Hitting, slapping or physically hurting your child because of their LGBTQ+ identity
  • Verbal harassment or name-calling because of your child’s LGBTQ+ identity
  • Excluding LGBTQ+ youth from family events and family activities
  • Blocking access to LGBTQ+ friends, events, and resources
  • Blaming your child when they are discriminated against because of their LGBTQ+ identity
  • Pressuring your child to be more (or less) masculine or feminine
  • Telling your child that God will punish them because they are LGBTQ+
  • Telling your child that you are ashamed of them or that how they look or act will shame the family
  • Making your child keep their LGBTQ+ identity a secret in the family and not letting them talk about their identity with others

© Caitlin Ryan, Family Acceptance Project, 2009.

Some Family Behaviors that Reduce Your LGBTQ+ Child’s Risk for Health and Mental Health Problems & Help Promote Their Well-Being BEHAVIORS THAT HELP

  • Talk with your child or foster child about their LGBTQ+ identity.
  • Express affection when your child tells you or when you learn that your child is LGBTQ+.
  • Support your child’s LGBTQ+ identity even though you may feel uncomfortable.
  • Advocate for your child when he or she is mistreated because of their LGBTQ+ identity.
  • Require that other family members respect your LGBTQ+ child.
  • Bring your child to LGBTQ+ organizations or events.
  • Connect your child with an LGBTQ+ adult role model to show them options for the future.
  • Work to make your congregation supportive of LGBTQ+ members, or find a supportive faith community that welcomes your family and LGBTQ+ child.
  • Welcome your child’s LGBTQ+ friends & partner to your home and to family events and activities.
  • Support your child’s gender expression.
  • Believe your child can have a happy future as an LGBTQ+ adult.

© Caitlin Ryan, Family Acceptance Project, 2009.


Ryan, C. (2009). Helping Families Support Their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Children. Washington, DC: National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development.

Ryan, C., Huebner, D., Diaz, R. M., & Sanchez, J. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics, 123(1), 346-352.

Resources in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting

“The tragedy of school shootings should never numb us, in spite of their heinous frequency. Our mission is to walk with people on the path to hope and healing through counseling and education so that we might all find our way to the fullness of life. Many of our clients are the same age as the victims of these shootings. We work with them and often their trauma through a healing process. This trauma is often caused by others called to carry responsibility for their safety and flourishing—whose irresponsible choices cause pain and despair rather than healing and hope.

As we strive to carry our responsibility to keep children safe, may we not be complicit in the pain, but warriors of justice, peace and healing.

To help us shoulder this responsibility, we offer resources for you to use within your own networks and communities. May the day come soon when such resources aren’t necessary because our decisions have put a stop to this madness.”

-Jim Hayes, Executive Director


Iowa’s Mobile Crisis Response system  provides free, on-site support for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. If a mental health crisis occurs, one or two-person mental health professional teams will be dispatched to the crisis within one hour of receiving a request. This on-site support is offered 24/7.

Behavioral health urgent care is available in Des Moines at Broadlawns and Unity Point, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

General Disaster Resources

  • Disaster Distress Helpline (SAMHSA): The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.

General Resources for Coping After a Mass Shooting

Resources for Parents and Teachers

Compiled by the Iowa Psychological Association Disaster Response Committee on 5/26/2022

Mental Health Advocacy Day at PCM

Trey Voeller


Meet Trey Voeller, a junior at PCM (Prairie City Monroe) High School! Trey organized a Mental Health Advocacy Day at his school that included multiple speakers, over a dozen mental health organizations throughout Iowa, and the entirety of the student body.

Trey, standing in front of a few booths at the mental health fair

Trey standing in front of a few booths at the mental health fair

Staci sitting at the Center's booth

Staci sitting at the Center’s booth

Staci Fosenburg, a psychologist from the Center and a graduate of PCM, hosted a booth at the event. Staci said, “It was certainly a powerful experience to come back to PCM after all these years and to share what I’ve learned and value about mental health.”

Staci was so impressed by the event and Trey’s commitment to mental health advocacy that we decided to spotlight Trey’s hard work in a special blog post!


Shannon: Tell me about the event you organized at your high school.

Trey: The event was a mental health advocacy day for PCM High School students. It was an all-day event starting with a presentation, followed by a mental health fair, and ending with two more presentations. The first presentation was two adults from NAMI Central Iowa, Anglea Tharp, and McKenzie Lopez. Their presentation was about being a friend and identifying symptoms of different mental health issues. The mental health fair had 20 organizations from around central Iowa. These organizations were everything from therapy organizations to hospitals. Students came in eight different waves separated by grade and last name. These groups were small to keep personal conversations private. If there was still time, students could answer feedback posters. Finally, Eric Preuss spoke on behalf of Your Life Iowa. He talked about ways for students to reach out to get help, whether for themselves or a loved one struggling with mental health. Eric discussed where to go or who to go to with mental illness concerns and needs. The last speaker, a senior from Ottumwa, Iowa, was Lily Glenn. She spoke about her experience with mental health and anxiety and how she has found different activities and resources that help her.

Overall, the three speakers added personal stories that helped students learn that everyone has a different story, and they learned that people struggling with mental health issues are all around us. It was a very engaging day where students and the community came together to advocate for mental health.

After the event, I started to find student interest in a mental health club at our school. I am initiating a Stomp Out Stigma club which works through Please Pass the Love.

Shannon: What inspired you to host this event?

Trey: This past year I was accepted to serve on SIYAC (The State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council). This council works with the Iowa Department of Human Rights. On this council, I work on the health and service committees. On the health committee, I connected with many legislators from around the state during the 2022 Legislative Session. I learned that Iowa is 51st in the United States for mental health awareness and advocacy. When I took a step back, I was able to see how even in my community, mental health awareness is generally not discussed. We have a mental health day that allows us to play games, but students want resources when I asked them about the original mental health day. I decided to take a stand and get connections through the legislators I had met. One legislator that helped instrumentally is my Representative, Jon Dunwell.

Shannon: What were your goals for the event?

Trey: When I’ve been asked this question, there are two ways I would answer. The first is my personal story of fighting mental illnesses and being put in situations where I did not know what to do. I talked about how I was once in the position of holding the life of a friend. This situation helped me realize I never wanted to fear this situation because I did not know what to do, so I decided to inform those around me too! The other answer is, even if I impact one life or help someone save another life in the future, wouldn’t that be worth it? Isn’t one life worth all the effort?

Shannon: Tell me about how the event went and any feedback you heard from other students, teachers, or organizations who participated.

Trey: The Mental Health Advocacy Day went excellent. There were some bumps in the road with finding supplies and finalizing some of the information for the day. However, the day ran very smooth. The students received great resources with information. Students tried to get signatures from three tables, and they received them only if they had a meaningful conversation with the table presenter. Teachers were given snacks throughout the day with a sign that said, “Teacher Mental Health Matters Too!” Many teachers complimented the presenters because some of the past presenters at our school did not relate to students. Past presenters have often left students wondering, “How does mental health matter to us?” These presentations allowed them to be a friend, see the symptoms, how to reach out, and what to do to release the pressure from society. The organizations gave good feedback, and many said they hoped this event continued as they wished to attend again. I also had one organization say the communication I had with them made the entire day less nerve-wracking. Everyone, who attended and helped put this event together, created a network that benefitted everyone.

Shannon: What would you say to other students who care about mental health and want to make a difference?

Trey: If you want to make a difference, I would say you should advocate for it. Start by looking for a need/issue in your community. Then, bring awareness to that need/issue and inform others about what you want to change. We as youth have a voice, and some people are listening. Youth are the future, and when society invests in its future, it sets us up for success as leaders and future influencers. For students wanting to make a difference, you can find ways to get involved in your communities and around the state for these passions. For students who care about mental health specifically, look for what you are trying to get across. Mental Health is a broad subject with many smaller corresponding parts, and when you finalize the message you want to convey to others, a bigger impact can be made.

Shannon: Is there anything else you’d like our audience to know about you or the event?

Trey: I would like to thank Representative Jon Dunwell for financially supporting this event. Thanks to Mrs. Pohl for helping me plan this event and being my teacher advisor. Thank you to my mother and the Prairie City Police Department (Matt) for catering this event. Thank you to the organizations that came and gave resources to students, Newton HyVee for donating cookies, and the PCM School District for being accommodating. Lastly, I want to thank the Monroe Police Department, Monroe Presbyterian Church, and Monroe First Reformed Church for donating tables. This event was worth the effort, and I would recommend anyone to take the time to advocate for their passions and beliefs. Again, thank you to Representative Jon Dunwell and Ms. Samantha Pohl for supporting me with this entire process.

Staci sharing information with a student

Staci sharing information with a student

50th Anniversary Reunion for Past & Present Staff

Join us for the Center's 50th Anniversary Reunion!

Join us on June 16 for a reunion of past and present
Center staff and training program participants!

June 16, 5:30pm-9:00pm
Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge
2500 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265

Come when you can and stay as long as you like! You are welcome to bring a guest. Formal remarks will begin at 6:30 pm. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be provided. We hope you’ll bring stories and memories to share!

Contact Paige Franzluebbers | (515) 274-4006 |