By Steve Coulter
More people are seeking services for mental health in Oklahoma during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oklahomans can receive help at Mental Health Association Oklahoma. It’s an organization that works to promote mental health, suicide prevention, criminal justice reform and ending homelessness.
“COVID right now is a very highly focused disease process that we are trying to attenuate, so that people don’t get sick and die. Suicide is an ongoing prevalent cause of death and we are 10th in the nation,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Director of Outreach Prevention & Education for Mental Health Association Oklahoma.
Suicide and mental health help is available right now. It’s just a phone call or text away.
“The suicide prevention lifeline is very good number to keep on hand. 1-800-273-8255 or an individual can text help or start to 741741 and they will be connected to a licensed clinician to assist them. This can be related to suicide ideation or just in need of mental health services,” said Hubbard.
There is also a number to call for a variety of non-suicidal mental health services. The mental health assistance number is 405-943-3700.
“We work to intersect mental health challenges that individuals are experiencing. To help them navigate to services and resources, or it could be help with housing if they become homeless, said Hubbard.
Mental Health Association Oklahoma helps with criminal justice support and reform. That help is available for individuals that have intersected with the law because of their mental health.
They also have employment first programs to help individuals get gainful employment and develop skills to continue in the workforce.
“We have seen an increase in calls regarding those services and concerns for mental health. People have been having these layers of emotional and mental responses to the layered impact of COVID-19, on top of other various challenges they may be facing,” said Hubbard.
Several factors contribute to Oklahoma being ranked 10th in the Nation for suicide.
“Suicide is a complex phenomenon and as such is sometimes challenging to know all that contributes to it. However, we do know some factors that contribute to suicide, such as poverty, significant relational conflict, untreated mental health disorders, substance abuse, and access to means,” she said.
Mental Health Association Oklahoma has some tips for anyone feeling stressed during the pandemic.
“For those feeling stressed during COVID, self care is key. For example, eat well, avoid excessive alcohol, and keep an exercise routine, with regard to physical support of mental wellness. Other ideas for support are practicing yoga, meditation, journaling, and spiritual practices. Reaching out to others, a trusted friend or joining a support group is great! Of course, always reach out for additional screening and support if symptoms are significant and persist for two weeks or more,” said Hubbard.
They also offer a variety of support groups to help feel supported and further enhance your mental health and wellness. All of the support groups are now available virtually.
Mental Health Association Oklahoma offers all their services free of charge.
“There is no cost associated with any of our services. We are funded through grants, donations and fundraising. We are able to offer everything we do free of charge,” said Hubbard.