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Welcome Ashley Parker!

Ashley Parker (she/her/hers) is NAMI Iowa’s new Provider Program Coordinator, where she’ll be working towards developing and strengthening NAMI’s relationships with Iowa academic institutions, health systems, clinics, government entities, and nonprofits to market NAMI Provider training and recruit and train new Provider teachers.

Prior to joining the NAMI Iowa staff, Ashley worked in the Iowa 2020 Caucuses and as a HIV Prevention Specialist for a non profit community health center, providing health education, testing and counseling services. Ashley holds a bachelors degree in social work and is currently working on her Masters of Social Work at the University of Iowa. In her free time, Ashley enjoys performing with her improv group Alley Cat Comedy, advocating for causes she believes in and watching far too many movies with her cats and boyfriend.

What interested you in this new position?

Education is powerful.  The experience someone has with a provider can greatly impact whether or not they continue engaging in vital mental health services.  While most folks are well intentioned, there still exists stigma and biases around mental illness – and a lot of that comes down to misinformation. I’m excited to collaborate with partners like Des Moines University to provide this amazing training to both new and seasoned physicians and mental health providers!

What are your goals while working at NAMI Iowa?

My goal while working with NAMI Iowa is to help expand and get this amazing program out to as many clinics, health care systems, and social service agencies across the state.

What interests you in mental health?

My interest in mental health stems from my lived experiences with mental illness and recovery. I’ve been on both sides of the couch – as both a client and a provider – and know just how transformative access to compassionate, quality care can have on a person’s life. I also know how damaging stigma can be to someone working towards recovery, and I want to help change the conversation about how we talk about mental illness to be a more strengths based, person-first/diagnosis second centered approach.

Where do you see the state of mental health in 5 years?

Iowa has a lot to work on as a state to make all Iowans have access  to mental health care, but also a lot of opportunity to grow and improve.  In five years, I hope to see an increase in funding for mental health services, more rural clinics and hospitals re-opened, more beds available in psych units, and an abundance of mental health providers in all areas of the states – both rural and urban.

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