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Oklahoma State Senate
Senator Susan Paddack
Senate District 13
Democratic Whip
Coal, Garvin , Hughes & Pontotoc Counties

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For Immediate Release: February 20, 2008

Senator Susan Paddack
Sen. Susan Paddack

Innovative Bill Aimed at Helping Citizens in Mental Health Crisis

OKLAHOMA CITY- A bill aimed at providing critical assistance to Oklahomans in a mental crisis unanimously passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee today.  Senate Bill 1422 directs the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to develop and implement a mental health first aid pilot program.  The bill’s author, Senator Susan Paddack, a Democrat from Ada, said the purpose of the program is provide non-mental health professionals the tools and the training to assist an individual in a mental health crisis situation until professional help arrives.

“First and foremost, this is a public health matter that must be addressed and it really is an innovative idea,” Paddack said. “The long-term benefit of this bill is helping Oklahomans better understand mental illnesses and what individuals and families experience every day when battling mental illness.”

Under Senate Bill 1422, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will implement a training curriculum for the program and issue certificates in mental health first aid to individuals who complete the training.

Paddack said Oklahoma would be one of the first states in the nation to offer basic awareness and first aid training for a mental crisis situation.

Steven Buck, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Deputy Director, said the bill offers a genuine opportunity to help someone in an emergency situation.

“Empowering people on how to intervene during a mental health crisis makes a lot of sense,” Buck said. “That is why we are very supportive of Senator Paddack’s efforts.”  

Paddack said one of government’s greatest responsibilities is to ensure the safety and well being of its citizens.  She said giving Oklahomans more knowledge and additional tools to handle situations involving mental health issues will make Oklahoma a safer place to live, work and raise a family.

“Mental illnesses are on the rise, not only in Oklahoma, but across the nation,” Paddack said.  “It makes sense to have as many Oklahomans as possible trained to handle mental health crisis situations.”  

For more information contact:
Senator Paddack's Office: (405) 521-5541
Email: paddack@oksenate.gov

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