KGOU

mental health

About one in five children in the United States shows signs of a mental health disorder — anything from ADHD to eating disorders to suicide.

And yet, as we've been reporting this month, many schools aren't prepared to work with these students. Often, there's been too little training in recognizing the problems, the staff who are trained are overworked, and there just isn't enough money.

Robinson Tolbert was honored in 2014 by the University of Oklahoma’s Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work Hall of Fame for her work in rural areas,
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

From its vast, open ranges in the northwest to its lush, rolling hills in the southeast corner, rural Oklahoma still evokes an idyllic image.

The archetype of quiet, small towns with a strong sense of community – where friendliness is abundant and “big city” stresses are few – often marks the popular imagery used to represent the state and its values.

But for many of those who live in Oklahoma’s rural areas, the reality does not match the trouble-free imagery.

Reaina Harris is diversion program coordinator with Red Rock Behavioral Health Services, which partners with the Midwest City Police Department to provide mental health and substance abuse programs to prisoners.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Midwest City Jail officials are trying to break the cycle of repeat offenders in their custody.

Police Chief Brandon Clabes says mental health and substance abuse services for inmates are offered in almost all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, but Midwest City is the only town to do it at the municipal level, The Journal Record’s Christie Tapp reports:

Justus Skyler Cobbs gets up from a table after talking with his grandmother Debbie Chastain at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center , Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Lexington, Okla.
Sarah Phipps / The Oklahoman

Each morning, Justus Skyler Cobbs wakes up inside the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ mental health unit, housed inside Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington, Oklahoma. Here, the 21-year-old receives regular mental health care. He says it is the best he has ever gotten. The reasons why he likes the care are simple.

"(They) sit down and listen to me. Actually let me talk. Tell them how I feel. They don’t pressure me into doing stuff or anything like that."

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner Terri White discusses mid-year fiscal cuts on March 25, 2016.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is the latest state agency to unveil details about how Oklahoma’s revenue failures will affect its bottom line.

The department announced during its March board meeting Friday morning it will trim an additional $13 million for the current fiscal year that ends June 30. That brings the total amount of cuts since January to $22.8 million, and ODMHSAS says more than 73,000 Oklahomans will notice the effects.

So what does that mean? Three things:

Former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello
Oklahoma Labor Commission

A bill that could help people with mental illness stick to their treatment plans passed the state Senate Tuesday.

House Bill 1697 would allow doctors or family members to request court-assisted treatment for some people with mental illnesses.

The measure would only apply to adults who have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness who are unlikely to survive safely in the community without intervention. They must have a history of noncompliance with treatment and been hospitalized twice in three years.  

Oklahoma Watch executive editor David Fritze, Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner Terri White, and Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez.
Patrick Roberts / KGOU

At the Oklahoma Watch-Out public forum last month, two prominent state health officials described the impact the state budget crisis and the oil-and-gas downturn could have on residents' physical and mental health.

As the Legislature prepares to assemble in February, the state’s two primary agencies that deal with health care for the impoverished and the mentally ill are bracing for cuts to services. At the same time, losses of jobs threaten to strain physical and emotional health for families at all income levels.

Left-to-right: David Fritze, Nicole Washington, Roxanne Hinther, Janet Cizek
Oklahoma Watch

Women in Oklahoma face often unique mental-health challenges in different life situations – whether incarcerated, suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, or dealing with severe anxiety as a professional or parent.

At an Oklahoma Watch-Out forum in Tulsa May 21, three experts talked about issues ranging from incarcerated women and trauma to postpartum depression and both the cultural and biological factors of mental health.

Verna Foust, CEO of Red Rock Behavioral Health Services in Oklahoma City, said people with mild depression, anxiety and other problems are "falling through the cracks," not getting treatment.
Lindsay Whelchel / Oklahoma Watch

Every year, thousands of Oklahomans with mental-health or addiction problems call or show up at state-funded treatment centers and get little or no care.

The message is: Until you get sicker, you will get minimal help from the state.

That’s because Oklahoma’s mental-health system relies on a “triage” approach that limits most subsidized treatment to the seriously ill.

Nearly a million Oklahomans suffer from mental illness or substance abuse so mental health facilities are using a triage approach to provide treatment.

A priority system that mandates the most severely ill get treatment while others wait.

Mental health providers say shrinking financial resources have forced such an approach to mental health care.

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