Crisis Center Aims to Address Mental Health Care Gap for Tulsa's Youth

Crisis Center Aims to Address Mental Health Care Gap for Tulsa’s Youth

With a relative who suffered from mental illness, Deneisha Johnson used a similar crisis center while growing up in Texas. But it was, in her words, “much scarier” than the one she walked into on Wednesday as an adult in Tulsa.

“It’s nice; it’s soothing,” said Johnson, now chair of the Board of Counseling and Recovery Services of Oklahoma, or CRSOK. “What if there had been a YES Fort Worth How would my adult years have been transformed?

Until recently, Tulsa also had no youth assessment services. CRSOK launched the city’s first YES crisis center last June at Saint Francis Laureate Psychiatric Hospital. But the program quickly outgrew the space and has now moved to a larger facility at 9912 E. 21st St.

However, the current location will likely only remain open for 18 months, while CRSOK plans to build an even larger facility.

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The group announced on Wednesday a campaign to raise up to $10 million to open a permanent YES center near 31st Street and Sheridan Road.

“This is just the beginning,” said Johnson, who will lead the fundraising effort. “This is the first step in what we want to do for the Tulsa community.”

A YES centre, for people aged 5 to 17, offers a place to turn to when a young patient seems to need more than routine mental health care but may not need be hospitalized, officials said.

“It fills a gap,” said Andre Campbell, clinical director of CRSOK. “Let’s evaluate. Let’s stabilize. Let’s just see what needs to happen next.

The YES center, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, can provide immediate help and, if necessary, refer for further treatment, officials said.

“What the YES program brings to the community,” Campbell said, “is that ability for us to make sure there’s the best placement. And the best placement offers the possibility of faster recovery.

Last month, in his annual State of the City Address, Mayor GT Bynum described the YES Center as “a one-stop triage center for families in immediate mental health crisis.” And he announced $1 million in funding to open the new facility.

“It is now estimated that 4,000 children in Tulsa County attempt suicide each year,” Bynum said at the time, “and last year a record 1,300 mentally distressed children flooded the emergency room of the Tulsa County”.

Operating costs for the YES Center will be funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, allowing it to provide care at little or no cost to patients.

Featured video: Learn about 988, the new mental health crisis hotline

988. This is the new number anyone in America can call or text for help if they are feeling suicidal or in mental distress. It is hoped the shorter number will help people remember the free service and know who to contact.

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