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Local Health Service Expanding To Sapulpa To Help Mentally Ill

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CREOKS sign. CREOKS sign.
Brandi Smith, Senior Regional Director of CREOKS. Brandi Smith, Senior Regional Director of CREOKS.
Paula Copeland struggles with mental health issues. Paula Copeland struggles with mental health issues.
SAPULPA, Oklahoma -

A Green Country behavioral health facility is expanding its services to bring care to Oklahomans.

About half of all Americans will experience some form of mental health problem in their life, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Health experts said the state is having a difficult time finding enough beds to serve the mentally ill, which means some in need of treatment end up in jail, while others are left searching endlessly for help.

"A lot of people, they look down on you for it. They think you're just this bad, horrible person and you're not," said Paula Copeland, who struggles with mental health issues.

It's been about five years since Copeland started suffering from anxiety, having severe panic attacks and never wanting leave the house alone.

"You need counseling and therapy to help figure out why you're having these attacks and having these problems," Copeland said.

She said she was treated briefly, while she was homeless and pregnant. Copeland is no longer living on the streets, but since giving birth four years ago, she said she's been turned away from every clinic she's gone to for help.

"You go somewhere and expect to get help or need help and they turn you away. You're gonna be ten times worse than what you are," said Copeland.

That's where CREOKS comes in, a non-profit Behavioral Health Service that has 18 clinics around the state, though primarily in northeastern Oklahoma.

The group is expanding services to its Sapulpa location.

"We're gonna be able to help get them stabilized in a short period of time and hopefully get them set up with what they need so that they can function and do what they need to," said Senior Regional Director, Brandi Smith.

This spring, CREOKS will open a new 16-bed crisis stabilization unit. It will allow patients with mental health disorders or substance abuse issues to stay three to five days to get the care they need.

Patients will be called guests, they will have their own room and there won't be any numbers identifying rooms. Smith said the goal is to create a homelike environment, as opposed to an institution.

"I need a place where I can go, where I know I can go and get help and not get turned away because that does not help a person with mental problems," said Copeland.

CREOKS psychiatric urgent care is a place for Copeland to go once it opens. That center will treat patients for less than 24 hours, providing medication and counseling.

"We're gonna have eight recliners, we're going to be able to offer people hot food, the availability of a shower and counseling services and case management," Smith said. "We are going to have the ability for people to be able to walk into the clinic, with this psychiatric urgent care because it will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."

Smith said the clinic can't accept anyone with criminal charges pending, but said providing treatment may be the solution to keep certain patients out of the legal system.

"Each individual is different, but I definitely think that people being provided the services they need, in terms of mental health, absolutely can make a long term difference for them in a lot of facets," said Smith.

Smith said once a patient is released from CREOKS care, staff will link patients the services they need, set them up with medications, and continue outpatient treatment on a regular and consistent basis.

Smith said CREOKS accepts Medicaid and will work with adults who are uninsured and can't afford to pay for services.

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