Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposed Okla. Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Funding Increase Detailed

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposed Okla. Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Funding Increase Detailed

Article excerpt

Though the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has Republican Gov. Mary Fallin's support for a $16 million budget increase, about half of that increase would be needed just to maintain the agency's existing programs, state records show.

In January, Fallin called for the increased funding in her State of the State address.

"The recent tragedy of Sandy Hook was an unwelcome reminder of what can happen when mental health needs go ignored," the governor said. "This year I am proposing a $16 million increase for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for a variety of programs, such as the Systems of Care Initiative to assist the children and families of children with emotional disturbances. By getting to these children and their families at an early age, we can help them to live healthy and happy lives, rather than pursue a path that can lead to self-destructive behavior, crime, or worse."

Fallin said the funding increase would allow the state to expand its crisis center program and create an additional crisis facility in addition to the two authorized in 2012.

Terri White, commissioner for ODMHSAS, said her agency asked for more than $11 million in funds for jail screenings, another crisis center and funding for the state's Systems of Care initiative. In her itemized budget request, Fallin recommended almost that same amount. Additionally, White said her agency asked for $800,000 to fund a state suicide prevention initiative. Budget documents indicate the governor's office recommended $500,000.

"For the first time ever, I'm also proposing we allocate state dollars for suicide prevention," Fallin said in January. "Oklahoma has one of the higher rates of suicide in the nation, and it is especially prevalent among our military veterans. New resources will help to reduce these tragedies."

White said the governor's concern about suicide was on target. …

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