Jul 11, 2022 - News

Indira Sheumaker: COVID and depression caused my absences

A photo of Indira Sheumaker.

Photo courtesy of the city of Des Moines

Des Moines City Councilperson Indira Sheumaker released a statement on Facebook Monday saying COVID-19 and depression have led to her recent absences from meetings.

Why it matters: Until Monday, Sheumaker had not explained her absences from council meetings and workshops since May 23.

Catch up fast: We published a story Monday citing our interviews with city and neighborhood leaders concerned about their inability to reach Sheumaker.

  • Mayor Frank Cownie and City Manager Scott Sanders had not been informed about why she was gone despite what Sanders described to Axios Des Moines as repeated attempts to contact her and offering accommodations to facilitate her return.

State of play: Sheumaker contracted COVID-19 in late May and was incapacitated for more than a week, she said in her statement.

  • Being isolated from friends and family "caused a huge dip in my mental health and wellbeing," she wrote, noting that she suffers from longtime chronic health issues.

Of note: The stigma surrounding mental health contributed to communicating about the issue more difficult, she wrote.

  • "As a Black, queer, feminine individual, I, and others like me, face unique challenges relating to mental health that are exacerbated by the social conditions we live under," she said.

What's next: She's receiving professional services and will seek personal and professional accommodations.


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