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Leslie Carpenter is baking cookies this holiday season, as a way to support her own son’s struggles with mental health.

The Iowa City mother hopes snickerdoodles might be enough to change the conversation on mental health in Iowa.

They’re her son’s favorite cookie. Now, Carpenter has turned that treat into an avenue for advocacy.

Leslie Carpenter making snickerdoodles.


Her son is diagnosed with a rare and difficult to treat brain condition, a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder called Schizoaffective Disorder.

“He has a serious brain disorder, and many times he’d be in psychosis,” Carpenter said. “A good sign that he was coming out of his psychosis is when he would start asking us to bring him snickerdoodles.”

But he didn’t ask for the cookies for himself. “They were for him to give to the other patients, because they had no pleasure,” Carpenter said. “In a psych unit, it’s a really, really stark, sad place where people are suffering.”

Her son is now 28, but started showing symptoms when he was 17. Through those years, they’ve noticed missing ingredients in mental health care. So they hope a well-made cookie can help change that.

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