Counselors, patients rally in Oklahoma City for mental health, substance abuse services

Tuesday, March 1st 2005, 5:29 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Mental health and substance abuse patients and their counselors gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday.

They're asking state lawmakers to provide money to expand programs for Oklahomans who need treatment for mental illness or substance abuse.

Former crack addict Kathy Kelly says access to mental health services two years ago saved her life. Kelly now works as a counselor others who have drug and alcohol problems.

A coalition of mental health advocates say Oklahoma has the highest rate of severe mental illness in the nation with more than 360,000 people, or nearly 10.5-percent of the population, suffering a serious mental illness.

The coalition says 500 people are turned away from community mental health centers each month because of a lack of funding.