Oklahoma ranks among the lowest in mental health funding in United States
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a report in September of 2015 focused on rates of mental illness and how much each state in the United States stacks up in mental health funding. Oklahoma ranked particularly low at $56.22 per capita, which is particularly crucial as this state presents particularly high rates of mental illness, second only to West Virginia.
Terri White, the Oklahoma mental health commissioner, says mental health and addiction services must prioritize patients, sometimes to the detriment of the ill population.
“What that means is the people who don’t get in the door get sicker and sicker, often until they become a person who is now a danger to themselves or someone else,” White finds.
Numbers indicate that nearly 1 million Oklahoma citizens need help with mental illnesses or drug addictions each year, but 60 percent don’t receive care. White says the chronic underfunding caused this in the past and present.
“When we have a system that’s underfunded and those people who are the most ill are who receive services, the bulk of our money is tied up in community and inpatient care, which leaves very little money for prevention,” White said.
Preventing mental illness will reduce distress and the need for long, potentially expensive treatment. The University of Washington finds children who experience poverty, abuse and other traumas tend to develop mental illness in later years.
In the same vein, the Mental Health Commission of Canada encourages schools, families, communities and more to look out for early signs of mental health trouble in people young and old. Increasing awareness of the symptoms involved in mental illnesses can go a long way as does reducing stigma so no one feels ashamed to talk about negative feelings.
For those who are interested in expressing their mental health troubles, fully understanding the problem at hand is the first step toward discussing it with others. No one is obligated to tell everyone about the problem, but choosing a few friends, family members and coworkers as allies in the know can help the person feel less alone.
Both the sick and healthy have ups and downs in life. Sovereign Health Group helps patients understand and treat their mental illnesses. The impact of stigma does not escape our mental health professionals. Call us today for help.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer