Tulsa residents living with mental illness and addiction die 27 years earlier than other Oklahoma residents. Their early deaths are most often caused by accidents, suicide, homicide, and overdoses. And their lives are often marked by poor physical health, poverty, and isolation. Mental illness takes a toll not only on these individuals, but also on their families, their communities, and the Tulsa region as a whole.
Yet residents with mental illness are not receiving the treatment they need.
In response, Tulsa is embarking on a 10-year plan to improve mental health and the mental health care system. The plan will have four overarching goals:
- Close the gap in life expectancy between Tulsans living with mental illness and all Oklahomans.
- Lower the rates of suicide attempts and overdoses, and deaths from both causes.
- Lower the share of Tulsans who experience poor mental health.
- Reduce criminal justice system, first responder, and hospital emergency room costs caused by untreated or poorly treated mental illness.
This initial phase of the Tulsa Mental Health Plan initiative has been led by the University of Tulsa in collaboration with a 17-member steering committee made up of mental health care professionals, philanthropists, and community leaders. The initiative partnered with the Urban Institute to study the mental health care needs and resources in Tulsa, identify gaps and inefficiencies in the health care system, and recommend ways to move forward. Our findings and recommendations draw from best practices across the nation but are grounded in Tulsa’s specific needs and context.
This report lays out the evidence base for Tulsa’s mental health plan by previewing the committee’s emerging goals and strategies and by reviewing the data and findings on which they are based. We also provide preliminary recommendations for measuring success after the plan has been implemented.