Child Welfare in the 21st Century

  • August 2012
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The second side of the story….

Posted by lboyd544 on August 20, 2012

Like all Oklahomans, I have been relieved with news reports of how well our state has endured the Recession, how our unemployment rate is about 1/2 the national average, and how both our natural energy resources and our intellectual property resources are thriving.

Yet, every coin has two sides.

During this time of Recession, Oklahoma has seen a major increase in the numbers of individuals seeking mental health services. We have experienced increases in suicides, depression, and domestic violence.

Oklahoma now ranks #2 national in citizens with incidents of “psychiatric distress” i.e. citizens seeking mental health services.  (Report from Carrie Slatton-Hodges, Deputy Commissioner for Treatment and Recovery, OK Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.)

14% of our state’s adult population seeks services today.

However, 70% of those needing or seeking services are not receiving them due to lack of professional resources, beds, or programs. 40% of the children needing mental health services are not receiving them for the same reasons.

Oklahoma should seriously consider taking up the federal government on its program for the expansion of Medicaid. The feds pick up 100% of this cost for the first two years and never less than 90% of the costs by 2020. This is our best bet for affording additional mental health resources for the population currently seeking them.

State coffers can not answer this need. If we do not take advantage of the federal Medicaid expansion, we simply pay into a federal system that then gives that money to states that have expanded their Medicaid programs. Oklahoma loses again.

Our business community —thriving and surviving as it is and for which it deserves applause and gratitude — cannot function without a health workforce. We owe it to them also to find those resources to address the second side of this story: the health, mental health, and well-being of all our citizens.

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