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March 6, 2014

Funding key to county mental health problem

Okla. ranked second in nation for prevalence of mental illness

CHICKASHA —

A recent national study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found Oklahoma to have the second highest prevalence of mental illness in the United States. 

At the local level, Grady Memorial Hospital Vice President of Patient Care Cathy Groseclose said psychological patients account for the second largest number of transfers from their facility. 

"I saw the report and I was not shocked at all," Groseclose said. "This is a real problem." 

The ill make their way to one of a potential host of facilities after leaving Grady Memorial. Many seek treatment at Red Rock Behavioral Health Services in Chickasha, the only publicly funded mental health center in Grady County.  

Regional Program Director Steven Mills said Red Rock treats a variety of conditions. 

"If someone were to walk through our doors we would assess behavioral health and substance abuse issues," he said. "With adults it's (substance abuse) a common enough occurrence where we screen everyone for it." 

Mills said he could not speak to why the problem is so evident in Oklahoma, but he is not surprised by its continual growth. 

"I have been at this for 35 years and there really isn't an emphasis on preventative work in this state,"  he said. "The old adage was, 'For every $1 you spend on prevention, you save $11 on treatment.' Mental health is the first thing that gets cut in a state budget. It's regrettable and Oklahoma is always in the bottom five of states for behavioral health funding." 

The study reiterated Mills' point. 

Nationally, state mental health agencies spend an average of $120.56, per capita, to provide citizens with mental health care, according to the report. 

Oklahoma spends $53.05, per person, on mental health services. Only five states spend less than Oklahoma. The study states the regional average of states surrounding Oklahoma is approximately $80 per person.

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