“People become more seriously ill when they’re unable to access services early in the disease process, and it results in more severe and costly problems later on,” Terri White, commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services said. “We’re feeling the impact of this increasing need for services in the public system, as well as the private system – and with scarce resources, more people are going without services at the exact time that more people need them. It’s creating a perfect storm, with no letup in sight.”
The study showed Oklahoma ranks second nationally in both categories used to ascertain prevalence of mental illness: number of adults meeting diagnostic criteria for serious mental illness (SMI); and any mental illness (AMI) experienced in the past year.
Nationally, among adults 18 and older, the national average of SMI is 4 percent. In Oklahoma, that rate is 5.24 percent, representing approximately 152,134 adult Oklahomans, the study reads.
"Approximately 18.2 percent of adults nationally experienced 'any mental illness' in the past year; in Oklahoma, the rate is 22 percent, or 635,248 Oklahomans," the report states.
Mills said a key to combatting this problem is to move away from curing mental illness and working more on disease management.
"We use the analogy with clients, 'You wouldn't think twice about taking insulin for diabetes and the same can be said about mental illness,'" he said.
Groseclose said maybe some preventable measures will improve with the advent of The Affordable Care Act.
"These are the people this bill is supposed to help," she said. "Some times they end up in jail, and granted they may have done something wrong, but that's not where they need to be."
Those experiencing any sort of mental health illness or interested in seeking counseling can contact Red Rock by going to 804 W. Choctaw Chickasha, or calling 405-222-0622.