Mental Health In Oklahoma

Wednesday, April 18th 2007, 8:42 pm
By: News On 6

We now know Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, was institutionalized for mental illness. That has spurned a national debate about mental health and its treatment. News on Six Reporter Ashli Sims did some digging on the state of mental health here in Oklahoma. She reports the National Institute of Mental Health website says one in four American adults suffer from some kind of mental disorder at some point in their lives, and just a fraction of those, about 6%, have a serious mental illness.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Oklahoma has the highest rate per capita of serious mental illness in the nation. Of course, the majority never turns to violence, but experts say they hope the tragedy at Virginia Tech will raise awareness about how important it is for those suffering from mental illnesses, like depression, to get help.

Greg Shinn at the Mental Health Association of Tulsa says depression is the most common mental illness. Some of the symptoms to look for include a drastic change in sleep such as, not sleeping at all or oversleeping, a lack of energy, losing interest in things you normally love to do and highly irritability. Experts say when these factors start to interrupt your daily life, that's when you need to seek help.

"Eighty percent of the time when somebody seeks the appropriate treatment for depression, for instance, they get significantly better,” said Shinn. “So it's not seeking the treatment that becomes the problem."