Author Archives: Shannon Schott

Resources in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting

“The tragedy of school shootings should never numb us, in spite of their heinous frequency. Our mission is to walk with people on the path to hope and healing through counseling and education so that we might all find our way to the fullness of life. Many of our clients are the same age as the victims of these shootings. We work with them and often their trauma through a healing process. This trauma is often caused by others called to carry responsibility for their safety and flourishing—whose irresponsible choices cause pain and despair rather than healing and hope.

As we strive to carry our responsibility to keep children safe, may we not be complicit in the pain, but warriors of justice, peace and healing.

To help us shoulder this responsibility, we offer resources for you to use within your own networks and communities. May the day come soon when such resources aren’t necessary because our decisions have put a stop to this madness.”

-Jim Hayes, Executive Director


Iowa’s Mobile Crisis Response system  provides free, on-site support for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. If a mental health crisis occurs, one or two-person mental health professional teams will be dispatched to the crisis within one hour of receiving a request. This on-site support is offered 24/7.

Behavioral health urgent care is available in Des Moines at Broadlawns and Unity Point, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

General Disaster Resources

  • Disaster Distress Helpline (SAMHSA): The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.

General Resources for Coping After a Mass Shooting

Resources for Parents and Teachers

Compiled by the Iowa Psychological Association Disaster Response Committee on 5/26/2022

Mental Health Advocacy Day at PCM

Trey Voeller


Meet Trey Voeller, a junior at PCM (Prairie City Monroe) High School! Trey organized a Mental Health Advocacy Day at his school that included multiple speakers, over a dozen mental health organizations throughout Iowa, and the entirety of the student body.

Trey, standing in front of a few booths at the mental health fair

Trey standing in front of a few booths at the mental health fair

Staci sitting at the Center's booth

Staci sitting at the Center’s booth

Staci Fosenburg, a psychologist from the Center and a graduate of PCM, hosted a booth at the event. Staci said, “It was certainly a powerful experience to come back to PCM after all these years and to share what I’ve learned and value about mental health.”

Staci was so impressed by the event and Trey’s commitment to mental health advocacy that we decided to spotlight Trey’s hard work in a special blog post!


Shannon: Tell me about the event you organized at your high school.

Trey: The event was a mental health advocacy day for PCM High School students. It was an all-day event starting with a presentation, followed by a mental health fair, and ending with two more presentations. The first presentation was two adults from NAMI Central Iowa, Anglea Tharp, and McKenzie Lopez. Their presentation was about being a friend and identifying symptoms of different mental health issues. The mental health fair had 20 organizations from around central Iowa. These organizations were everything from therapy organizations to hospitals. Students came in eight different waves separated by grade and last name. These groups were small to keep personal conversations private. If there was still time, students could answer feedback posters. Finally, Eric Preuss spoke on behalf of Your Life Iowa. He talked about ways for students to reach out to get help, whether for themselves or a loved one struggling with mental health. Eric discussed where to go or who to go to with mental illness concerns and needs. The last speaker, a senior from Ottumwa, Iowa, was Lily Glenn. She spoke about her experience with mental health and anxiety and how she has found different activities and resources that help her.

Overall, the three speakers added personal stories that helped students learn that everyone has a different story, and they learned that people struggling with mental health issues are all around us. It was a very engaging day where students and the community came together to advocate for mental health.

After the event, I started to find student interest in a mental health club at our school. I am initiating a Stomp Out Stigma club which works through Please Pass the Love.

Shannon: What inspired you to host this event?

Trey: This past year I was accepted to serve on SIYAC (The State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council). This council works with the Iowa Department of Human Rights. On this council, I work on the health and service committees. On the health committee, I connected with many legislators from around the state during the 2022 Legislative Session. I learned that Iowa is 51st in the United States for mental health awareness and advocacy. When I took a step back, I was able to see how even in my community, mental health awareness is generally not discussed. We have a mental health day that allows us to play games, but students want resources when I asked them about the original mental health day. I decided to take a stand and get connections through the legislators I had met. One legislator that helped instrumentally is my Representative, Jon Dunwell.

Shannon: What were your goals for the event?

Trey: When I’ve been asked this question, there are two ways I would answer. The first is my personal story of fighting mental illnesses and being put in situations where I did not know what to do. I talked about how I was once in the position of holding the life of a friend. This situation helped me realize I never wanted to fear this situation because I did not know what to do, so I decided to inform those around me too! The other answer is, even if I impact one life or help someone save another life in the future, wouldn’t that be worth it? Isn’t one life worth all the effort?

Shannon: Tell me about how the event went and any feedback you heard from other students, teachers, or organizations who participated.

Trey: The Mental Health Advocacy Day went excellent. There were some bumps in the road with finding supplies and finalizing some of the information for the day. However, the day ran very smooth. The students received great resources with information. Students tried to get signatures from three tables, and they received them only if they had a meaningful conversation with the table presenter. Teachers were given snacks throughout the day with a sign that said, “Teacher Mental Health Matters Too!” Many teachers complimented the presenters because some of the past presenters at our school did not relate to students. Past presenters have often left students wondering, “How does mental health matter to us?” These presentations allowed them to be a friend, see the symptoms, how to reach out, and what to do to release the pressure from society. The organizations gave good feedback, and many said they hoped this event continued as they wished to attend again. I also had one organization say the communication I had with them made the entire day less nerve-wracking. Everyone, who attended and helped put this event together, created a network that benefitted everyone.

Shannon: What would you say to other students who care about mental health and want to make a difference?

Trey: If you want to make a difference, I would say you should advocate for it. Start by looking for a need/issue in your community. Then, bring awareness to that need/issue and inform others about what you want to change. We as youth have a voice, and some people are listening. Youth are the future, and when society invests in its future, it sets us up for success as leaders and future influencers. For students wanting to make a difference, you can find ways to get involved in your communities and around the state for these passions. For students who care about mental health specifically, look for what you are trying to get across. Mental Health is a broad subject with many smaller corresponding parts, and when you finalize the message you want to convey to others, a bigger impact can be made.

Shannon: Is there anything else you’d like our audience to know about you or the event?

Trey: I would like to thank Representative Jon Dunwell for financially supporting this event. Thanks to Mrs. Pohl for helping me plan this event and being my teacher advisor. Thank you to my mother and the Prairie City Police Department (Matt) for catering this event. Thank you to the organizations that came and gave resources to students, Newton HyVee for donating cookies, and the PCM School District for being accommodating. Lastly, I want to thank the Monroe Police Department, Monroe Presbyterian Church, and Monroe First Reformed Church for donating tables. This event was worth the effort, and I would recommend anyone to take the time to advocate for their passions and beliefs. Again, thank you to Representative Jon Dunwell and Ms. Samantha Pohl for supporting me with this entire process.

Staci sharing information with a student

Staci sharing information with a student

Join us for the Center's 50th Anniversary Reunion!

Join us on June 16 for a reunion of past and present
Center staff and training program participants!

June 16, 5:30pm-9:00pm
Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge
2500 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265

Come when you can and stay as long as you like! You are welcome to bring a guest. Formal remarks will begin at 6:30 pm. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be provided. We hope you’ll bring stories and memories to share!

Contact Paige Franzluebbers | (515) 274-4006 |


2/11/2022 – Celebrating Black History

Jim Hayes Headshot

James E. Hayes, D. Min., M. Div., Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

I subscribe to the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa newsletter and want to start off my thoughts by sharing a lengthy example of their recent content around Black History Month:

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans. It is a time to recognize the central role of the Black community in our shared history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” created by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Every U.S. president since 1976 has recognized the month of February as Black History Month. 

Faith leaders who participate in Faithful Voices for Racial Justice, a project of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, encourage faith communities across Iowa to explore and highlight achievements of Black Americans and Black communities. Faith communities can highlight specific examples of the successes and contributions in Iowa, our nation, faith traditions, and denominations. Ways to do that include stories in newsletters, social media, and other publications as well as sermon illustrations and readings during worship or gatherings. Also consider study options with small groups, including youth groups.

Black History Month Resources:

Becoming Beloved Community – Episcopal Diocese of Iowa

Anti-Racism Action Calendar (Disciples of Christ) 

29 ways to participate in Black History Month – United Methodist Church

African American Museum of Iowa

National Museum of African American History & Culture

African American History Month

African American Heritage – National Archives

Black History Month –

Though the Center is not affiliated with any particular community of faith, I think we can participate in the Interfaith Alliance’s directive to include stories in our newsletter. I would like to celebrate a mental health colleague, Resmaa Menakem, LICSW, who authored the book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (2017).

I and other colleagues here at the Center have committed to working our way through this book as one of our anti-racist Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts. It’s hard work as Menakem challenges the reader to go beyond theory and literally explore how racialized trauma has impacted us all. I have learned from my colleagues that trauma work often/always involves body work as the effects of trauma reside not only in our memory, but literally in our bones. It is hard work to face the pain in order to move along the path to healing. Menakem and other African American therapists and theoreticians have done groundbreaking work as they have helped others in the healing field to explore the impact of generational trauma.

Sometimes the pain of our lives is simply and scarily an inheritance.

That doesn’t mean healing is impossible, just that we need to explore the trauma of ancestors along with current behavior in order to start the hard work of healing.

I am grateful to colleagues who have taken on leadership roles in our inclusion efforts. Billie Wade volunteers her time to facilitate a book club. Dr. Kelli Hill, our clinical director, has been generous with her time as she has chaired our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Colleagues in that working group have helped us to organize workshops on how we can improve as an organization and in the provision of our services. A subcommittee in that group is exploring how to make our physical environment more hospitable through art and accessibility. We have become much more intentional about inviting diverse perspectives in our board recruiting and in the hiring our staff.

Our hope in these initiatives is that we will be known as a welcoming place for all people seeking high quality mental health services, especially in communities of color which have been traumatized by violence and injustice. We have much work to do.

As we commemorate Black History Month, I am grateful for the many contributions of that community who have reminded us that through hard work,  hope and healing are possible.

Jim's Signature