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Mental Health and Incarceration


“We owe it to our community to understand mental health issues better so that we can address them, prevent them and sustain quality in neighborhoods while also creating an environment where all individuals are aware of their access to safety, shelter and other services.”
- Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Mayor Bynum’s administration has adopted strategies to address mental health for Tulsa’s residents:

To that end, Mayor G.T. Bynum’s office and the City of Tulsa have partnered with several agencies across the city to implement programs designed to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness and/or mental illness and individuals involved in the justice system.

Through the City’s strategic plan and Resilient Tulsa initiative, Mayor Bynum is committed to supporting programs that provide effective services to promote mental health, lower incarceration rates, and bring a better understanding of the issues faced by individuals entering or re-entering the workplace after being involved in the justice system. 

Background and Statistics
Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the country, coupled with the highest female incarceration rate in the country. Many who were incarcerated find it hard to re-integrate, secure a job, and find stable housing. The problem stems in part from incarcerated individuals not knowing all the services available to them, and not finding the proper care for their mental health needs.

According to Mental Health Association Oklahoma’s 2017 Annual Report, nearly 4200 Oklahomans faced homelessness, and 1-in-4 Oklahomans experienced mental illness. An estimated 700,000-900,000 Oklahomans needed mental illness and substance abuse services, and only 1-in-3 of these Oklahomans were accessing the medical services they needed to treat those diseases. According to Mental Health America, states with less access to mental health programs have more people in the justice system.

One of Mayor Bynum’s goals in the City of Tulsa’s Resilient Tulsa strategy is to highlight and provide adequate communication of these available services, programs and initiatives to anyone facing mental illness, those currently in the legal system and those previously incarcerated.

These programs and services are changing lives for the good, creating healthier and more productive Tulsans.