Mental Illnesses In OK Staggering, Treatment Services Lacking - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Oklahomans Rate Of Mental Illnesses Staggering, Treatment Services Lacking

Posted: Updated:
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health has a waiting list for Oklahomans who qualify for services but all their programs are full. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health has a waiting list for Oklahomans who qualify for services but all their programs are full.
"We want our children to graduate, instead of dropping out. We want to ensure families are staying together. We want to ensure there's a good healthy workforce," said the Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health Commissioner. "We want our children to graduate, instead of dropping out. We want to ensure families are staying together. We want to ensure there's a good healthy workforce," said the Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health Commissioner.

Jacqueline Sit, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The signs were there that could have prevented the tragic shooting in Tucson. Jared Loughner is a man with mental illnesses left untreated and Oklahoma officials say it's only a matter of time before the tragedy could repeat itself.

But with the severe financial cuts in mental health services, what are patients and their families to do?

Health officials say Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the country. They also say the ability to fight it is getting tougher and that long battle could lead to worse consequences.

"We have to be perfectly clear anytime you have untreated mental illness and addiction, there is a chance of a tragedy like this occurring here in Oklahoma," said Commissioner Terri White with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health

Commissioner White said the number of those with untreated mental illness is staggering. Right now there's huge gap of people needing help versus those who can get it.

"We have waiting list everyday, hundreds of Oklahomans who've asked for help who qualify for services and all the programs are full," said White.

Facilities such as the OSU Psychiatry Physicians Clinic and Norman's Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center have been cut due to budget constraints. Now another fiscal year is ahead of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health, and officials are asking for more money to help Oklahomans in need.

"We want to help insure all kinds of good things. We want our children to graduate, instead of dropping out. We want to ensure families are staying together. We want to ensure there's a good healthy workforce who's at work, employable, so we can have good economic development," said the Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health Commissioner.

The bottom line: what may prevent a tragedy in Oklahoma like the one in Arizona is going to take the destigmatization of mental health before it can do any good.

"We know we've seen an increasing number of calls in the suicide hotline. We know people are struggling and need help and we 're losing those services right now as to putting more earlier interventions with dollars and resources and we've got to start investing there if we want to prevent these type of tragedies," said White.

Commissioner White will be in a budget meeting with the governor Thursday to request $130 million for the year for her department.

Find more information on mental health resources.

Powered by Frankly
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.