By State Rep. Lundy Kiger
There are many public issues we need to review in LeFlore County to help improve our quality of life and create a safer future for everyone. To make real progress on any social issues, however, we must review these problems together, as a county of communities and professionals. No families are safe from any problems related to drug use, legal medication over use, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and especially with the mental health issues that follow or accompany many of these social problems.
The most calls I receive on a weekly basis are undoubtedly related to mental health. There are two concerns I have when someone calls with a family member needing an evaluation and treatment for mental health, and that’s the fact that the state is limited on available beds to take in new patients, and those who deal with mental health problems and break the law tend to be put in jail with little or no chance of receiving the needed treatment for their illness. In other words, they are put in jail where they waste away.
I’m currently working with over 30 people, agencies and health care professionals to develop a comprehensive list of options for anyone who experiences mental health issues that will destroy lives if not treated. This group of people also will include our law enforcement officials because they are one of the top groups hit with the responsibility of taking care of these patients despite law enforcement not being designed or structured to care for mental health patients.
At the end of February, we will develop a list of options and providers designed to help those who have or who don’t have insurance with the goal of getting anyone and everyone the help they need as quickly as possible.
In early March, we will have all of the information put on a one-page written form, and we’ll work to get this out to as many people as possible to help our county people to be better prepared if they have a loved one in need of treatment.