(The Center Square) - Despite over 200 behavioral health service providers, including 17 state agencies, Oklahoma is seeing substance abuse and suicide rates above the national average, with 21 people per 100,000 committing suicide, according to a new report.
The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency told legislators Wednesday that Oklahoma spent $971 million on behavioral health in fiscal year 2022.
Despite the spending, drug overdose deaths in the state increased by 40% in the last year alone, the report said.
The $971 million figure comprises both state and federal funds for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (ODMHSAS) and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA).
For ODMHSAS alone, the department received approximately $529 million in total funding in fiscal year 2022, 61% of that being state appropriations, according to LOFT.
“It is difficult to determine the full scope of mental health needs of Oklahomans as statewide figures are primarily from surveys and self-reported data,” said Mike Jackson, executive director of LOFT. “Based on available national survey data, Oklahoma has the fifteenth highest prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse with 1 in 5 adults affected.”
Among Oklahoma’s youth, 17% experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, above the national average of 15%, according to Jackson.
The report identified several gaps in behavioral health services within the state.
Gaps included a lack of coordination and data sharing between the 17 state agencies that provide behavioral health services, a lack of direct and targeted services for military service members and veterans, behavioral health programs within public schools and mental health treatment within county jails.
However, the report said Oklahoma is saving thousands with its Adult Drug Court program. Unemployment among graduates went down by 39%, average income went up by 129%, and LOFT estimated the state is saving $17,000 per participant by not having them incarcerated.
In general, LOFT said many of the state’s behavioral health service gaps could be tied to one of two overarching problems they identified: a lack of comprehensive data to sufficiently assess the state’s behavioral health system and the lack of a statewide strategy that has led to compartmentalization.
It recommended Oklahoma adopt a system similar to what has been done in Texas by creating a central government structure to coordinate and oversee behavioral health within the state.
LOFT also recommended the Legislature require ODMHSAS to provide a comprehensive State of Mental Health annual report along with its annual budget request and require agencies to provide data to ODMHSAS for the purpose of compiling the annual report.
via Oklahoma's Center Square News