On Your Health

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Mental Illness in Oklahoma

05 October 2016

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On Monday we wrote that it's Mental Illness Awareness Week, and we provided some alarming statistics about mental illness in the U.S.

Today we want to talk about Oklahoma.

Studies estimate that a whopping 22 percent of Oklahomans suffer some form of mental illness, which is the third-highest rate in the U.S. The study says as many as 950,000 people in Oklahoma struggle with mental illness and addiction, which often go hand-and-hand. Meanwhile, Oklahoma ranks No. 44 in the U.S. for what it spends on mental illness.

The state spends $53.01 per capita to provide mental health services, below the national average of $120.56, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The state legislature, for the 2017 state fiscal year, appropriated $323 million to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, $17 million less than the previous year.

A final, sobering statistic: Oklahoma has the 13th-highest suicide rate in the country, with a rate of 14.7 suicides per 100,000 people. As mental health experts know, the No. 1 predictor for suicide is clinical depression.

The stigma of depression and mental health issues prevents many from seeking help. Seeking treatment for physical ailments is normal and common -- seeking treatment for mental health issues should be, too.

As we mentioned, this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Each year, the week provides an opportunity to provide support to those who suffer from mental illness and educate the public about the disease. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is calling on everyone to shine a light on mental illness and replace stigma with hope by taking the #StigmaFree pledge at

In addition, the National Depression Screening Day will be held tomorrow. This program provides free, anonymous screenings for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also provides referral information for treatment resources if needed.

Other Resources:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK or (800) SUICIDE

NAMI Information Line: (800) 950-NAMI Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255

National Youth Crisis Hotline: (800) 442-HOPE (4673)