The Mental Health Association Oklahoma is one of America’s first mental health organizations. Formed in 1955 with the name Mental Health Association in Tulsa, the association offered socialization programs for people coming out of mental health institutions. It also introduced crisis help lines for teens and those contemplating suicide and pushed for the development of a community crisis unit for evaluating patients instead of putting them in jail. The association changed its name to the Mental Health Association Oklahoma in 2014.
Today the Mental Health Association Oklahoma provides a range of services to those in need in the Oklahoma community.
Mental Health Association Oklahoma – Services
The association provides free support groups for those living with various types of mental illness. Each of the following illness has its own support group run by a mental health professional – Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Survivors of Suicide, Parents Supporting Parents, Strength and Serenity and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Increasing awareness through education of mental health issues within the community at large is an important step towards promoting enhanced safety and connection between the community and those individuals suffering from mental health problems. The association provides a range of educational programs to schools and the community around mental health information and runs screening and referral programs that help prevent suicide and connect those in need with suitable community-based treatment.
Prevention programs like SunBridge Counseling provide a way of identifying young people at risk of developing mental health problems and referring them to appropriate professionals, many of whom provide their services pro bono. This and other similar programs help to reduce the impact of mental illness, violence, suicide, trauma and addiction on the community and on families.
The association’s recovery services program is designed to allow those living with mental health issues to connect with their community. There are 3 programs – Creating Connections, Peer Outreach Services, and Drop-In centers like Denver House (Tulsa) and Lottie House (Oklahoma City). Denver House is the first peer-run drop-in center in Oklahoma. The recovery programs aim to improve the lives of those with a mental illness by improving their independence, socialization and life skills, and illness management.
Working with authorities to reduce homelessness in Tulsa for those suffering with mental health issues is high on the association’s agenda. Their housing program provides affordable, safe housing for those with nowhere to live and ensures there is access to support groups, legal help, treatment, and community support. Living in a normal environment like this helps mentally ill people take on the responsibilities of being part of a community such as returning to school, finding work, developing life skills and so on.
Another area in which the Mental Health Association Oklahoma is seeking to make a difference is in public policy as it affects those suffering from mental illnesses. The association offers a neutral meeting table where those parties involved in the mental health system – patients, families, mental health professionals and community leaders – can confer about mental health issues and come up with mutually beneficial solutions to address them.
And finally, the Mental Health Association Oklahoma runs conferences and events throughout the year such as the popular annual gala Carnivale, the Zarrow Mental Health Symposium, the Charles P. Seger Seminar on Depression, the Fashion and Talent Showcase, Tulsa Youth Speaker Series and ListenUp Tulsa.