After Newtown, OK mental health services under scrutiny

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Updated: 12/19/2012 10:15 am Published: 12/18/2012 8:27 pm

As more victims in Newtown, Connecticut are laid to rest, the focus in cities across America including in Green Country has turned to preventing a tragedy like this from happening again.

Right now, there are many questions about the mental health of Adam Lanza, the man who shot 27 people to death before turning the gun on himself.

Mental health experts in Tulsa understand the questions, and when something like this happens, they expect them.

The Mental Health Association in Tulsa said Tuesday it's flat out wrong to assume everyone with a mental illness is violent, and it's also wrong to assume we're doing everything we can in Tulsa to protect those people.

They are hard to escape, reports about the mental state of accused Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, and many aren't arguing with what they've read.

“For someone to do that it's just, someone in their right mind just wouldn't do something like that,” Tulsa mom Lydia Clopton said.

For the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, that's what he fears most.

“It's so tempting to sort of blame it on a mental illness when there's so many more factors, and it's so much more complex than that,” Michael Brose told FOX23.

Brose worries while people point fingers; they're losing sight of a problem that could affect us all; more people with mental health issues in the Sooner State and not enough beds to treat them.

“In the state of Oklahoma, if you don't have high end insurance, good luck. You're going to have a very, very difficult time accessing (help for your illness) because we have such a shortage of that.”

He says in Tulsa, the problem is especially bad.

“We have significantly, less than half, the number of beds that are available to people in the Oklahoma City area.” 

18 more beds are scheduled to be available in Tulsa to help mental health patients next year, but Brose says those beds will only fix half the problem.

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors said mental health funding in Oklahoma has increased from $136 Million per year in 2001 to $198 Million a year in 2010, but that 2010 number is about four percent lower than in 2009, and they expect another slight dip this year.

“What we have in Oklahoma is some really high quality services,” Brose said, “What we lack in Oklahoma is enough of those services.”

The Tulsa Police Department’s Mental Health Liaison said in October of this year, the department set a record for the most mental health patient transports out of Tulsa County. 44 times they sent people to places like Lawton, Oklahoma City, and McAlester.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

kindagreywolf - 12/20/2012 3:04 AM
0 Votes
Can't blame Oklahoma. Almost all states had long term facilities to deal with difficult mental issues but the people didn't want to pay for them and the states had to close them down and toss them to the streets. Now in the mental health community psychiatrists and therapist have to report to the police every time a patients farts smell funny. Who wants to get help in fear of them calling the cops and tossing you into Jail?

WMCOL - 12/19/2012 9:53 AM
1 Vote
Good luck with that Oklahoma. Obamacare is uniquely suited to deal with our nations mental illness problems but Oklahoma rejects every facet of his healthcare plan. Besides, if Oklahoma did something about its mental illness problems the state would then not go all red in Presidential elections where the candidate has at least one drop of black blood, nor would Oklahoma continue to be the dregs of the nation in so many areas. To Oklahoma good mental health means being as backwards as possible.

Gladys Crump - 12/19/2012 12:17 AM
1 Vote
I'm not a doctor or anything,and I understand mental illness is a hugh problem, and a heartbreaking life for parents who live with a son or daughter prone to violent outbursts and fits of anger, but it seems to me if you have a child who is mentally disabled,hard or impossible to control, anger and violence issues, a great first step toward not having 22 kids killed by him or her would be to not collect assault weapons and other guns for a hobby and have them lying around, and especially might be a good idea not to teach that troubled child how to use the weapons....if Mrs Lanza was alive now, I think she might possibly agree that she didn't use the best judgement teaching her son to shoot and keeping fortyleven guns around for him to use.
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