Oklahoma Watch: Q&A with Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Commissioner Terri White

BY WARREN VIETH, For The Oklahoman

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.

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