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House lawmakers work to fund mental health services in Oklahoma

Posted at 6:20 PM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-30 19:26:37-04

Nearly $50-million could be on the way to help Oklahoma’s mental health services.

Members of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives approved a plan to use half of that funding from a ‘rainy day fund’.

In Muskogee, Green Country Behavioral Health Services is bracing for a cut.

GCBHS employs more than 100 health professionals and treated more than 4,000 patients in 2016.

It operates several outpatient services and a 16-bed crisis center.

Mary Hicks used services at GCBHS nearly a decade ago when her son was being bullied at school.

Now, Hicks is there working with local parents.

With crisis services and mental health care jobs are on the chopping block, help could be on the way.

House lawmakers voted Monday on a spending package just for mental health services.

Half of the funding comes from the state’s ‘rainy day fund’.

“I’m really disappointed in a way that we have to use a rainy day fund to fund every day expenditures and I hope that our legislators can find a permanent fix so that we don’t have to be worrying about where we’re getting operating costs from,” said Hicks.

Hicks’ boss, Joy Sloan, says mental health services are already massively underfunded.

Sloan attended the press conference two weeks ago with the state announced the proposed $75-million cut to services.

“I do not have the words to even effectively mimic what i want to say because it’s too hard to understand,” said Sloan.

Hicks is hopeful there’s a more permanent solution for mental health funding.

“I’m rea appreciative of the work that’s going into this and I really hope that they’re [lawmakers] going to find a long term solution and not just a band-aid that’s going to keep everybody quiet for a few months, but then put us into a deeper hole in six months, nine months down the road,” said Hicks.

The house plan still needs to clear the senate and get signed by Governor Fallin.

It’s estimated by lawmakers that the $50-million plan would help fund Oklahoma’s mental health and behavioral services through February 2018.

 

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