Teen shares statewide mental health problem - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Teen shares statewide mental health problem

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Iowa is nearly last in the nation when it comes to mental health resources.

A teenager is back home after spending a week in the hospital to treat her depression.

Aspen Albright, 13, and her mom, Danielle Young-Kruger, said they're happy to be reunited after going to Allen Hospital for help.

They were told, because of a bed shortage, Sioux City was their best bet for treatment, but it's also nearly four hours away.

Imagine going to the hospital and learning the best you can do for your depressed child is send them away while not knowing when they'd be back home.

Danielle and Aspen only had the chance to talk on the phone a few minutes every day, too.

That's what this Waterloo family had to go through, and they're hoping to change that problem for others.

Aspen is nearly 14, and she's a normal teenager, but she's also coping with some depression.

Last week, Aspen's mother, Danielle, brought her to Allen Hospital in Waterloo for help only to learn a bed shortage meant sending her across the state.

"I was scared, really scared, because I knew if there were no beds here. I knew I'd have to go out of state, and I didn't want to go out of state, because my parents were here, and I want to be where I am," Aspen said.

"It was stressful. Her phone calls weren't until 6 at night. So, at 6:05 we had to make sure, and we were calling," Danielle said.

After spending a week across the state in Sioux City to get the help she needed, Aspen says she's glad to finally be back in school.

"There was a schedule when you have to wake up, and eat, and sleep, and all that stuff. Mostly free time, where I went to," Aspen said.

Initially, Aspen said learning that she'd have to leave her family to treat her depression only made matters worse.

"I was scared at the moment I first left. I started having a panic attack. On the way there, it was a four-hour drive, and it was really quiet. So, I slept most of the way," Aspen said.

Fortunately, she was able to get the help she needed, with people going through the same problems and talking through their issues.

"My past, my depression, my anxiety, a lot of things, but it was mostly about my past mostly. It was mostly people who self-harm, have depression, and stuff like that," Aspen said.

Right now, Aspen is taking medication to help her depression, and her mom plans to follow up with a therapist, but unfortunately that doesn't change the lack of mental health resources across the state.

Aspen's mom said she hopes to follow up with lawmakers to see what they can do to improve the bed shortage problem across the state.

Still to come on KWWL, we will continue to dig deeper into this problem.

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