Mental health advocates rally against budget cuts

Representatives with Family and Children's Services and their clients shuttled to the State Capitol to lobby against mental health care cuts.

In the midst of our state's budget crisis, on Wednesday afternoon mental health advocates rallied at the Capitol. They are hoping to get their message across about the impact of slashing mental health funding.

"Without this place I'd be a lost soul among the thousands that are lost right now in Tulsa," said Chris, prefers to withhold his last name.

Chris says he nearly hit rock bottom before receiving treatment at Family and Children's Services.

"I was using recreational drugs and alcohol all the time. I had no way to cope. I was so delusional, paranoia, anger and fear all these things that had destroyed my life," Chris said.

He was living on the streets and was in and out of jail for some time. Then one day he chose to get help.

"They got me a doctor. They got me a therapist and right now it's a totally different world. They taught me how to love myself. They loved me until I could love myself," Chris said.

He said treatment saved his life. That's why it breaks his heart to hear the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health is cutting around $23 million. More than 73,000 Oklahomans are expected to experience reduced services.

On Wednesday morning, Chris and others with Family and Children's Services shuttled to the state Capitol to lobby against budget cuts.

Advocates are hoping their handwritten letters and their presence will keep lawmakers from slashing more from mental health care.

"I think about all the people who are not going to have access to services and won't have anywhere to go. Substance abuse programs will be cut and mental health programs will be cut and where will those people go to get the help that they need, the medication they need and the counseling that they need," said Allison Ingram, recovery support specialist with Family and Children's Services.

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