Local mental health programs play a vital role in school security

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 3/06/2013 9:02 am Published: 3/05/2013 5:38 pm

You can’t seriously talk about improving school safety without seriously improving how we handle issues surrounding mental health.

That conclusion comes from the Oklahoma Commission on School Security.

The COPES program is operated by Family & Children’s Services and is the only 24/7 emergency response unit in the state of Oklahoma.

For people dealing with mental health issues, Tulsa County’s Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Service, or COPES is sometimes their only lifeline. Last year alone, the hotline received nearly 6,000 calls.

"By providing this outreach we are able to defuse the situation and save lives,” says Tina Wells with Family & Children’s Services.

For anyone feeling like they are at the end of their rope, they can call the hotline at 918-744-4800.

“There is a huge need in Oklahoma for the expansion of mental health services,” says Wells.

But providing that service at all hours of the day costs money, and the need for more funding is apparent.

"Those services have to be funded and there has to be an allocation of funding so that we can meet the needs,” says Wells.

COPES is free, confidential and team members can come to you at any point day or night. It costs $1.5 million for the COPES program to run, however 84% of that money is provided by the state of Oklahoma.

But given the fact that Oklahoma ranks number 2 in the nation for adults struggling with mental illness, there is still so much more that needs to be done.

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