The Norman Transcript

Headlines

February 17, 2013

State ranks high in mental illness, addiction

NORMAN — It’s no secret that Oklahoma consistently ranks near the bottom in state surveys of physical health indicators such as obesity, diabetes and smoking. It’s less well known that Oklahoma also has some of the highest rates of mental illness and addiction.

Gov. Mary Fallin cited those statistics and the Sandy Hook massacre when she asked lawmakers to provide a $16 million funding boost next year to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services headed by Commissioner Terri White.

If the Legislature adopts Fallin’s plan, White’s department will use the added funding to open a new mental health crisis center, target prescription drug abuse, launch suicide prevention programs and expand counseling for disturbed children and their families.

In an interview with Oklahoma Watch’s Warren Vieth, White explains why Oklahomans report more mental illness and addiction problems than residents of other states. She discusses what the state can do to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook and why she thinks her agency deserves a bigger slice of the state budget.

White, 39, is an Edmond native who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Oklahoma. A former fiscal and policy analyst for the Oklahoma Senate, she has headed the mental health department since 2007.

· How prevalent are mental health problems in Oklahoma?

We’re No. 2 in the nation in the number of adults struggling with mental illness. A lot of people are surprised when they hear that.

Think about our overall health rankings, though … We have high rates of all diseases in Oklahoma. So it’s not surprising that we have high rates of mental illness and addiction.

The brain is simply another organ in the body. When you’re in a very unhealthy state, when your population is unhealthy and has high rates of diseases, of course you’re going to have high rates of brain diseases as well.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Tornado Repair Oklahoma officials account for $9.4M in disaster spending

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, officials announced that they have spent close to $9.4 million in private donations on relief efforts....

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moore schools receive $500K

    As Mickey Davis addressed the auditorium, the picture of a bright-eyed, happy 8-year-old on the podium in front of her could not be ignored. Davis’ son, Kyle Davis, was one of seven who lost their lives in the May 2013 tornadoes at Plaza ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Man arraigned after wife’s death

    A judge on Wednesday denied bond for a 37-year-old Norman man formally charged with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife early Saturday morning in their southeast Norman apartment. Abid Sandhu, 37, was arraigned before Special ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Earth Day activities continue this week

    Oklahoma is no stranger to extreme weather, but many say those extremes are even greater than before. Norman resident and biologist Kathy Rand is convinced those climate irregularities are a result of climate change caused by pollution, ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Severe storms loom across central U.S. this weekend

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Forecasters are predicting a significant chance of strong tornadoes this weekend across a large part of the nation’s mid-section, an outbreak that could stretch from the Great Plains to the Midwest and South....

    April 25, 2014

  • Telling stories of a distant land

    Bakhtawar Aamire of Pakistan has been telling the same sad legend to Oklahomans for the past month. The story goes like this: Long ago, a young woman in love lived in the area that is now the city of Gujrat in the Punjab Province of ...

    April 25, 2014

  • NPS announces severe weather procedures

    Norman Public Schools is clarifying new severe weather/tornado procedures with letters to parents and a website that details the district’s severe weather plan....

    April 25, 2014

  • Sam Noble honored with national medal

    The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma will be awarded the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, OU announced Thursday....

    April 25, 2014

  • Manufacturers see better times for economy, jobs

    NEW YORK — Companies are finally starting to spend some of the cash they’ve been sitting on, and that could mean a stronger economy and more jobs are on the way. Industrial companies such as General Electric, Honeywell and Caterpillar ...

    April 25, 2014

  • Workshop to empower young women

    BeautyIS, a free event targeted for girls ages 11 to 14 — with the purpose of helping them uncover the beauty within themselves — will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the LoveWorks Center, 127 Main St....

    April 25, 2014