Mental health experts turn to technology to provide support for Oklahomans

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – State and local mental health agencies say more and more Oklahomans are in need of services as their stress continues through the pandemic. Those agencies are utilizing technology in many different ways to provide that much needed help.

“People are very stressed out about the pandemic,” said Verna Foust, CEO at Red Rock Behavioral Health.

“You have families that are juggling more things than they’ve ever had to juggle before,” said Carrie Slatton-Hodges, Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “When you’re tired and feel like you’re juggling a lot is when you become more vulnerable, whether that be to physical illness or to depression or anxiety.”

That is where the agencies come in to provide assistance. 

For Red Rock Behavioral Health, it’s their crisis number: 987-ROCK. The HIPPA compliant software sends a link to the caller after they dial the hotline that can provide them with the help they need.

“When they hit that link they can see someone face to face: a first responder, a therapist, whatever is needed,” said Foust.

For the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, it’s dialing 2-1-1.

“They will connect you with who your nearest provider is or they’ll transfer you to someone who can talk to you right then and there,” said Slatton-Hodges.

Slatton-Hodges said luckily Oklahoma was already equipped with a robust Telehealth system even before the pandemic.

“That system truly was able to rapidly adjust to providing the majority of its care through phone and computer,” said Slatton-Hodges.

Although we are many months into the pandemic, the agencies said it is never too late to get the support you need.

“We’re having an increase in calls and an increase of people wanting help, and I think people are more stressed now than they’ve ever been,” said Foust. “So there’s nothing wrong with reaching for help.”

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