Funding Oklahoma's mental health department

Monday, May 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Oklahoma City-AP) -- Oklahoma lawmakers have agreed to give $6-million back to the mental health department for a community based program for the mentally ill.

Both the House and Senate budget committees have voted to give the Program for Assertive Community Treatment. Earlier this year the Department of Mental Health saw 12 (m) million dollars in cuts.

The program has teams that look for people who frequently use the mental health system and are repeatedly jailed or hospitalized.

The team's goal is to keep the mentally ill, often people with schizophrenia, functioning within the community.

Lawmakers say its cheaper to have community base programs than to pay to hospitalize or jail people with mental illnesses.

Private mental health providers with state contracts to offer outpatient services say the allocation is unfair and takes away funding from certain services.

The state 14 private centers are bonding together to help to operate more efficiently.