Kaitlyn Dirth, Iowa Wesleyan College

Kaitlyn DirthKaitlyn Dirth, a junior nursing student at Iowa Wesleyan College, is a leader and advocate on issues of mental health care. One of her professional aspirations is to become a psychiatric-mental health nurse. During this clinical semester, she learned of the urgent mental health care needs in the state of Iowa and the governor’s proposal to close two highly needed mental health institutes. She immediately initiated action to raise public awareness and support for these mental health care concerns. Kaitlyn created a petition on Change.org to keep the mental health institutes open. To date, nearly 8,000 signatures have been secured, and she submitted it to Governor Brandstad on February 18, 2015. She was also recognized before the State Senate for this act of citizen advocacy and concern. Also, Kaitlyn has conducted nurse lobby sessions with state legislators on mental health care issues. Her message has sparked local and national media attention, and she has presented at the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and community public forums on these issues. Kaitlyn’s passion, resolve and dedication to creating positive change in the mental health care world has inspired a new level of consciousness in serving all of the human family.
-Steven E. Titus, President of Iowa Wesleyan College

Part of being a community is advocating for its most vulnerable population. It’s been proposed by the governor of Iowa to terminate services provided by two of the four Mental Health Institutes of Iowa, one being in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, where I currently attend nursing school. This is detrimental to not only our nursing education, but also to our community’s employment, and above all the patients themselves. This is what they have come to know and moving them away from their families, biological or not, can be extremely difficult for already unstable individuals.
After hearing this news I knew it was my civic duty to act. I began an online petition in late January in hopes of support for keeping these facilities open. Currently the petition has nearly 8,000 signatures. I contacted local newspapers and radio stations to help promote the cause. My psychiatric/mental health class was invited to our state Capitol in Des Moines and I was able to present this petition to the governor’s office. I have been asked to speak at numerous events for this cause, and I will continue to fight for those that cannot necessarily fight for themselves.
-Kaitlyn Dirth, Iowa Wesleyan College