Great news, my fellow Oklahomans! Our esteemed Senator Jim Inhofe is taking a break from tweeting about cheeseburgers and taking the initiative to solve the mental health crisis in Oklahoma!
However I have a few questions about the implementation, including…
- Why fund a private Christian college?
Now the last time I was running a price comparison on counseling psychology degree programs was back in 2014, but from what I recall private college cost a cubic effton more than your state programs. I know UCO doesn’t award Master of science degrees “focused on Bible principles” like MACU. But would it not be more cost-effective to fund a state school?
- How are a dozen new clinicians going to save the mental health crisis?
Counseling psychology graduate school cohorts are typically capped at around a dozen folks per year to make sure that students are getting an attentive, meaningful education. If you’re just bolstering one program, you can’t expect an annual increase of 12 new therapists to solve Oklahoma’s whole mental health crisis. Instead, let nature take its course. Allow them to burn out like those who have come before by overworking them so they can make enough money to counteract Oklahoma’s Medicaid cuts. Speaking of which…
- How are you going to pay them once they’ve graduated?
Having more therapists is an awesome idea. However, last I checked over the years the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has lost millions in funding. So once these newly-minted therapists are ready to practice, how the actual f*ck will they get paid to work? I know folks don’t start a career in mental health for the pay, but you can’t eat clinical notes.
Now, I am all for improving the mental health care system in Oklahoma not only because the cuts to Medicaid have hurt an already vulnerable population of folks in this state, but also because more Oklahomans died by suicide in 2020 than any other year and since March 2020 mental health problems are up about 40%. But I also think there are better ways to address Oklahoma’s ongoing mental health crisis, including…
- F*cking pay therapists
Look, I know I’m biased because when I’m not writing Pulizter-level material for TLO I moonlight in the mental health care field, but you are going to have to pay therapists if you want them to remain to be therapists. The increase in mental health-related struggles throughout the pandemic have overworked an already underfunded system, leading mental health care providers to burnout like crazy. If you want empathetic, educated professionals to choose a career in mental health, you’re going to have to either offer student loan forgiveness or pay them more than $29,000 per year and work them less than 60 hours per week. In other words, ya’ll state leaders need to…
- Stop defunding Medicaid
Seriously, stop it. Every time ya’ll pass another initiative that decreases funding to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, we as a society have to generate at least 4,200 thoughts and prayers to make up for it.
- Improve Oklahoman’s quality of life
Food, housing, and medical care are mental health care. To improve mental health care in Oklahoma, we not only need to improve access to therapy services, but also raise the minimum wage to reflect at least the minimum amount of money it takes to survive in the state. I think Oklahomans would gladly sign off on limiting tax credits to the OKC Thunder and state-funded trips to Azerbaijan if it meant they could afford to feed their families without worrying if they’d be better off without them.