Partnering to Promote Mental Health Resiliency

In a significant stride toward enhancing mental health awareness and response capabilities, the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to the Story Medical Center Foundation. The goal is to expand mental health education and training initiatives within Story County, fostering a more resilient and empathetic community.

This grant is part of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation’s Community of Health Grant programs, strategically designed to kindle innovation, strengthen nonprofit organizations, and initiate comprehensive health initiatives. The funds will play a pivotal role in expanding the reach of mental health education and support services.

 “Delta Dental of Iowa and our Foundation are committed to partnering with organizations that share our goal to create healthier communities by strengthening the health and smiles of all Iowans,” says Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. “We are proud to invest in the Story County Medical Center Foundation’s efforts to increase community awareness and understanding of mental health challenges as well as increase the number of community members able to recognize the symptoms, and respond with appropriate support and connection to resources when needed.”

 Liz Zuercher, Coordinator of the Story Medical Center Foundation, emphasized the critical role of mental health education in building a strong community, stating, “We believe that investing in mental health education is crucial for building a resilient and empathetic community.” She says she envisions a community empowered to address mental health challenges effectively through the training of Mental Health First Aid instructors.

 The grant will facilitate the training of instructors, equipping them with the skills to conduct Mental Health First Aid sessions. This approach empowers community members to recognize and respond to mental health crises efficiently and effectively. The goal is to establish a sustainable network of trainers from diverse backgrounds who will contribute significantly to the expansion of mental health education in Story County, particularly in rural areas.

 Mental Health First Aid, likened to CPR for mental health, imparts knowledge of risk factors, warning signs, and strategies for assisting individuals in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Certified instructors, accredited by the National Council for Mental Health Wellbeing, undergo training endorsed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

 Certified instructors form the backbone of the program, teaching community members to recognize and respond to mental health and substance use-related crises. They are integral in tailoring discussions, providing a list of resources, and supporting learners throughout the process. With a national curriculum as their guide, instructors are empowered to teach Mental Health First Aid to diverse audiences within their communities.

 The generous $25,000 grant from the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation will cover the expenses associated with training ten instructors. This includes registration fees, training materials, and any necessary travel expenses. This strategic investment is poised to create a lasting impact, fostering a community where mental health education is not just a program but an integral part of building a resilient and supportive society.

About Delta Dental of Iowa
Delta Dental of Iowa, a not-for-profit health and wellness company, provides dental and vision benefits to more than 1.6 million Iowans. Locally focused and nationally networked, Delta Dental of Iowa and its Foundation invest in robust community systems and partnerships. These efforts empower and engage all Iowans to have optimal oral, vision, and overall health. Since 2002, Delta Dental has invested more than $62 million to improve the oral and overall health of Iowans.

 Delta Dental of Iowa is a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. The Delta Dental member companies provide dental benefits to more than 89 million Americans in more than 166,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more information, visit the website at