Tulsa’s 10-year Plan to Improve the Mental Health Care System

Tulsa’s 10-year Plan to Improve the Mental Health Care System



Dr. Gerry Clancy, president-designate for The University of Tulsa, gave a warning during the media conference to announce the Tulsa Regional Mental Health Plan.

“You are going to hear some disheartening statistics today,” he said. “We all need to be reminded of these statistics from time to time. We all need to hear the stories of people across our community – people in this room, people in our families, and people who might surprise you.”

For instance, here are some of the most startling statistics related to mental health in Oklahoma:

985,000 — number of individuals reporting a mental illness or substance abuse disorder

22.4 — percent of population with mental illness

11.9 — percent of population with substance abuse disorders

60 – percent of adults not receiving needed treatment

40 — percent of youths not receiving needed treatment

Bill Major, executive director for the Zarrow Family Foundations, put everything into perspective as he explained why The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation is funding the plan for a 10-year community-wide effort to focus on regional mental health improvements.

It is unacceptable that we criminalize so many of our brothers and sisters instead of providing the treatment that they need,” he said. “It is unacceptable that we have over 500,000 Oklahomans who need and want treatment but are unable to get it. It is unacceptable that families are torn apart with nowhere to turn when their loved ones receive a diagnosis and then are put on a waiting list. We must do better and we will.

“This plan will create the momentum that Tulsa needs to address this critical issue in a way that will be a model for other communities,” he continued. “It will be a plan to bring together the right resources with the right ideas and move us forward in a way that takes us out of the basement and propels us to be a bright light for others to see.”

How the Plan Works — according to Dr. Jeffrey Alderman, director for the TU Institute for Health Care Delivery Systems

  • The Urban Institute will complete the 10-year plan over the next 14 months, targeting a final due date in early January 2018.
  • Study will primarily focus on individuals 0 to 65 years of age with mental illness, with and without co-occurring substance abuse, who reside in the seven-county Tulsa metropolitan statistical area (MSA).
  • The study will gather and process information from three sources: 1) qualitative data from patients and their caregivers, 2) qualitative data from thought leaders across the Tulsa Region, and 3) quantitative data from a variety of organizations, including healthcare organizations, insurers, nonprofits, social services and government agencies.
  • We will document needs related to mental illness, assess the resources we have in place to meet those needs as well as gaps and inefficiencies in the system.
  • We will map out how Tulsa can move forward to provide a well-functioning, prevention-oriented, recovery-centered, evidenced-based, and cost-effective continuum of care for people affected by mental illness.


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