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Gift from billionaire provides boost to life-saving mental health program in Neola

Posted at 7:31 PM, Oct 31, 2023

NEOLA, Iowa (KMTV) — For more than a decade, Harlan mom Devin Mahoney-Rold, knew she needed help but wasn't finding it through existing mental health and addiction recovery programs.

A generous grant from philanthropist, and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Mackenzie Scott, means that NAMI Southwest Iowa is going to be able to expand its programs.

"I would call and say, 'I need to go to detox or I need to go to somewhere because I can't stop drinking and I don't want to die,'" said Mahoney-Rold in NAMI’s Neola office.

She struggled with addiction, but never connected it to other mental health issues. She just wanted help.

"I don't want to keep ending up in jail and rehab and all this stuff," said Mahoney-Rold, who considers herself in recovery for the last three years.

Just like Devin, approximately 8.5 million adults in the U.S. experience both a mental illness and substance use disorder. It's often referred to as "dual diagnosis."

Anna Killpack is the local executive director of NAMI – or the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She says treatment for folks with a dual diagnosis, is not one-size-fits-all.

"Maybe that's where we need to take a step back and say 'Okay, what can we do differently? Let's, let's not keep doing the same thing over and over again, that's not working,’” said Killpack.

The southwest Iowa NAMI chapter applied for – and got — $100,000 of the funds Scott awarded to NAMI at the national level. The project is called ReConnect.

"We want families to understand the connection between mental health and substance use disorder,” said Killpack. “And individuals to understand that, so they can reconnect with themselves, they can reconnect with their families and reconnect with recovery."

Devin is now a peer leader.

“Everything that NAMI has to offer is free and it's led by trained peers; people who have been there."

NAMI has chapters in Nebraska and Iowa, but only the Neola chapter has ReConnect.

Killpack expects good things from Scott's national gift to NAMI: "I think we're going to see a lot of new ways to help people"

FIND OUT MORE: namisouthwestiowa.org

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