Mental health advocates try to secure state funding

Friday, March 14th 2008, 6:37 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

Mental health workers are worried about getting enough funding from the state this year.

Members of the mental health community said they are hoping cuts are not going to affect the progress they've made.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 21 percent of inmates in state prisons have serious mental illnesses. For female inmates, the figure is 40 percent.

It's what happened to Franny Holland, who has bipolar disorder.

"I ended up in prison from my addiction," she said. "From there, I went to rehab, which again, the state paid for, and they sent me for mental health services. Now, the state doesn't pay anything for me. I pay."

Officials said treatment has helped these people get back on their feet, at places like the Associated Centers for Therapy in Oklahoma. Susan Gravitt has been treated for Bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression at the center.

"If it wasn't for A.C.T., and all the wonderful people there, I really couldn't tell you where I'd be," she said. "I'd probably be buried already, ‘cause it's been a long tough haul my whole life."

Mental health advocates said they hope that treatment centers already established in Oklahoma aren't cut because of the state's tight budget.

"To remove some of that money would take back some of the steps of progress that we've made," said Beverly Moore with Associated Centers for Therapy.

Last year, the state allocated $209 million to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. This year the agency is requesting $291 million.