Focusing on Improved Health for Iowans

Wellness is an important priority for the State of Iowa and Central Iowa leaders alike. As we first prepared to launch Capital Crossroads, our leadership recognized the importance of wellness in living a balanced life; thus, the Wellness Capital was added to the initial Capital Crossroads plan. Since the Wellness Capital’s inception, we’ve conducted studies and developed programs to improve local health.

Wellness Capital initiatives so far:

  • Community-wide assessments
  • Development of workplace wellness toolkits
  • Diverse programming in the Healthiest State Initiative
  • Wellness and Community Study, in which over 900 regional businesses participated

Now, we’re taking the Wellness Capital a step further to address regional issues of mental health and emotional well-being. Our decision to focus on mental health was made after meetings with institutions whose representatives said wellness programs are shifting to include mental health in their traditional physical activity and nutrition programs. A holistic wellness program now includes social and emotional well-being, financial management, stress management, and more. Not many organizations or businesses currently provide programs including mental health to their participants, even though program operators have found that employees have had a very positive response to wellness programs that include mental health.

With Capital Crossroads 2.0, we’ll devote much of our energy to addressing mental health and will continue to focus on strategies to enhance community well-being as a whole in the Greater Des Moines area.

Capital's Overarching Goal

Wellness Capital will lead in elevating the conversation and giving voice to the vast number of opportunities to improve the overall social and emotional well-being of the community through advocacy and awareness.

The Wellmark YMCA opened in downtown Des Moines

January 2015

In the nearly 150 years the YMCA of Greater Des Moines has been serving central Iowa, the association has only had three downtown locations. You can make that four with the new Wellmark YMCA. With a gym, indoor track, handball and racquetball courts, squash courts, indoor cycling studio and wellness center, the Wellmark Y is a state-of-the-art facility. Wellmark has charitably donated the parcel of land it owns directly next and west of the Y. The additional land will be used to accommodate a 50-meter swimming pool (and warm-up pool) with seating and amenities to host major aquatic events.

Prescriptive Assessment

Wellness studies and surveys are an important aspect of Wellness Capital’s continuing focus on enhancing community well-being.

Studies we’ve done in the past:

In this phase, Wellness Capital will seek to understand more about how Central Iowa employers are incorporating mental and social health components into their wellness programming.

Desired Goal

Consistently updated storehouse of information to customize social and mental health programming.

Optimizing the use of data to inform wellness planning

Wellness Capital partners regularly reach out to residents and businesses to identify wellness needs, challenges, and opportunities, and this should continue into Capital Crossroads 2.0. Continuing to conduct surveys and assessments will give us solid records of health outcomes and trends.

How We'll Do It

  1. 1

    Participate in regular community health assessments and tracking

  2. 2

    Partner with businesses to assess and improve their workers’ social and emotional well-being

Wellness Programs and Services

Data has shown that Central Iowa is one of the most philanthropic regions in the country, and the State of Iowa has demonstrated a lasting commitment to improving the health of its residents. In addition to the usual collection of local, state, and federally funded programs, Central Iowa has leveraged philanthropic and grant monies to develop and implement a more comprehensive array of wellness programming than most regions its size.

As an example, the United Way of Central Iowa – the highest per capita funded United Way in the country – has identified health as one of its three principal focus areas and integrates multiple initiatives under its funding umbrella. As the Wellness Capital continues to identify the benefits of holistic wellness programs, we’ll be able to better advocate for awareness and promote new and enhanced programs including mental health.

Desired Goal

Awareness and use of comprehensive programs and services optimizing the social and emotional well-being of Central Iowans.

Raising awareness of the need for integrated mental health services

Though there are currently programs and services offered to improve the mental and emotional well-being of Central Iowa children and adults, healthcare leaders feel that the conversation needs to be changed. Leaders are working to identify the best ways to increase funding, use local expertise, and identify regulatory changes that will improve mental health care.

How We'll Do It

  1. 1

    Convene partners to inform coordinated mental health programming

Supporting improved regional, social, and emotional well-being

Multiple providers and programs support the improvement of Central Iowans’ wellness outcomes. In addition to county public health departments, local and regional nonprofit service providers and funding organizations either directly implement programs or support them through resource provision or coordination.

The Wellness Capital will help inform dialogues on wellness programming and outcomes to partners, providers, and the public on the potential for more holistic community wellness strategies.

How We'll Do It

  1. 1

    Advocate for holistic Central Iowa wellness programs