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Leaders must address mental health crisis – The Journal Record – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 2021-04-30 19:39:39 –

Experts joined Joe Dowd, Interim Editor of Journal Record in the upper left, to discuss the growing mental health crisis in Oklahoma and strategies to address it. (JR screenshot)

Oklahoma City – Oklahoma’s biggest health problem has grown even bigger.

Fortunately, businesses and individuals can step up and help, a panel of experts told the JR / Now webinar on Friday.

Prior to the pandemic, one in four people in Oklahoma suffered from mental illness and addiction, said Terry White, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Mental Health Association. “It will be more than a quarter after COVID,” White said.

The three main drivers of the increase are community fear and anxiety about illness, recession and social isolation, said Saxtoykov, executive director of the Healthy Mind Initiative.

According to Stoichkov, people experiencing depression and anxiety are likely to have increased from 25% to 40% of the population during the peak of the pandemic.

The actual data is not available for months. However, based on how each 1% increase in unemployment affects despair, predictors show that 34,000 Oklahomans considered suicide and 9,000 attempted suicide.

He said the state was likely to have increased 4,500 new cases of alcohol abuse, 14,000 new cases of substance abuse, and 250 deaths from opioid overdose or suicide.

Shane Wharton, president of Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, said the company’s front-line employees were essential workers who appeared throughout the pandemic and had to do more for the protocol. It was.

“By summer and autumn, we saw fatigue and stress,” Wharton said.

Knowing that stress affected 30,000 employees both at work and at home, Love enacted QPR suicide prevention training. QPR – Abbreviation for Question, Persuasion, Referral – teaches the general public what to do if someone suspects that someone is thinking of committing suicide.

According to Wharton, some employees later reported that this information helped save the lives of their children and friends.

According to Wharton, business leaders need to use their platform to discuss these things both with themselves and in the larger community.

According to White, QPR is a short but effective workout that gives people the basic skills to keep someone alive until expert help comes. “It’s like CPR. It’s the same except for mental health,” he said.

Mr White said mental illness and suicide are undoubtedly workplace problems and encourages employers to talk about them and provide support and training to workers.

She said employees with untreated mental illness did not attend work altogether. It reduces productivity and increases injuries and absenteeism. She said that if an employee dies of suicide, whether at work or elsewhere, it affects the entire organization.

White said the idea that suicide is a selfish choice is a myth. People make decisions based on despair, pain, or the belief that others would be better without them, she said.

“It’s important to hear that these things (the root causes) are curable and that suicide is preventable,” Wharton said.

“It’s a preventable cause of death, but ask questions only when someone really reaches out,” White said. “There is hope and there is help.”

If you or anyone you know is thinking of suicide, it is advisable to call 211, a 24/7 hotline.

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