Summit tackles Texoma mental health issues
DURANT, Okla. (KTEN) — The Choctaw Nation hosted a mental health summit at the tribe's headquarters in Durant on Tuesday.
The inaugural event, headed by staff from the Department of Agriculture, brought together state, federal, and tribal leaders. They discussed the unique mental health challenges facing rural Texans and Oklahomans.
"I think some of the challenges have to do with access to care — not enough physicians, enough health care professionals in those communities; transportation is certainly an issue; the ability to have funding," said USDA Oklahoma Rural Development director Kenneth Corn.
Another goal of the summit is to strengthen local mental health resources. One solution discussed during the panels was making sure law enforcement are properly trained to deal with someone having a crisis.
"Law enforcement are become sort of the the first responders for people suffering mental health crisis, if somebody is having a episode either saying they're going to kill themselves or someone else," USDA Texas Director Lillian Salerno said.
This week marks one year since the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, and the role of mental health in that event was on the minds of some summit attendees.
"We don't readily identify people who are having issues, and this is an opportunity for us to help people understand that there are people who need help, who don't know where to go get help," Corn said.
The plan is for this to be the first of many annual summits.