Tahlequah Daily Press

February 18, 2014

Mental health services available in Tahlequah area

Second in a three-part series on National Mental Health Month

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Experts estimate that at any given time, one in four Americans is dealing with a mental health issue.

Despite the enormity of the problem, most people with mental disorders do not seek help. A study released in 2012 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recorded a treatment rate of less than 40 percent, a figure mirrored in the agency’s 2013 report on Oklahoma.

Mental health professionals often cite fear of expense and a persistent stigma associated with undergoing counseling as the reasons many people forego treatment.

“Because we are a community health care facility, we accept SoonerCare,” said Amber Masters, assistant Tahlequah site director for CREOKS Mental Health.

“We do have a service provider at our agency that accepts private insurance. If it is difficult for patients to pay, we receive indigent funds to help them if they meet income guidelines.”

CREOKS is publicly funded through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. A prescription assistance program is available and a psychiatrist visits weekly.

“We also charge fees using a sliding scale,” Masters said.

“It is based on household income and people in the household. It is posted in our lobby, and we can make sure people know where they fit on it before beginning treatment. They can walk in our door to fill out a referral, or call us and we can take down the information. Whichever is more convenient.”

In the U.S., common mental disorders are depression, addiction, anxiety and phobias. Research by Mental Health America of care in different states found that more mental health professionals per capita and greater access, especially through adequate insurance coverage, resulted in fewer reports of mental disorders and a lower suicide rate.

There are several options in Cherokee County for those who need mental health counseling, therapy or intervention. A partial list includes:

• Calming Connections, (918) 453-1108, offers treatment including counseling and therapeutic activities for children with behavioral disorders, including ADHD.

• Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health, (918) 453-5000 or 1 (800) 256-0671, offers an array of treatment services for mental health and substance abuse. Outpatient services include psychological testing, crisis intervention, instruction for parents of children with disorders, subtance abuse counseling, relapse prevention and therapy for families and individuals. The Nation can also make presentations at schools and in the community on behavioral health topics.

• Dr. Melinda Shaver, (918) 457-8100, runs a private psychology practice.

• CREOKS Mental Health, (918) 207-0078, provides rehabilitation services, education and therapy to children and adults in group, family and individual settings.

• Improving Lives Counseling Services, (918) 960-7852, offers counseling and therapy at its Tahlequah office, but also offers onsite counseling sessions.

• Multi County Counseling Inc., (918) 458-0113, offers individual, family and group counseling, psychiatric and psychological evaluation, rehabilitative services and medication services to adults and children.

• Solutions Behavioral Health, (918) 453-2300, at Tahlequah City Hospital is a 10-bed inpatient behavioral health unit for people 60 and older.

Definitions of good mental health can vary, but most describe it as a feeling of well-being - though not necessarily an absence of sadness, guilt or other painful emotions. A person in good mental health copes with stress and setbacks.

The World Health Organization describes mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”