“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a treasured holiday classic where a community rallies around George Bailey, a man in trouble. Thousands of people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse are looking for support like George.

Without our help, it’s not such a wonderful life for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues. Studies prove their life expectancy is about 25 years less than someone without these challenges. This alone should create a huge public outcry and call for action. Yet, most of us are silent.

As with George’s neighbors and friends, some people can afford to a help a lot while others can only afford a little. Our agency, like other community mental health centers, faces the problem of too many needs and not enough funding. At Counseling & Recovery Services of Oklahoma, every gift makes a difference in helping children and adults whose lives depend upon receiving treatment and medication.

In November, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) released its report, “State Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis.” It painted a grim picture for mental health funding in many states. Oklahoma ranks 46th out of the 50 states and District of Columbia in per capita spending on mental health. Yet, the state ranks at the top in the nation for the quality of its mental health care.

Follow this link to the NAMI report.

What does this say to the public and to the legislature as it begins a new session?

First, treatment works and recovery is a reality for many children and adults. The ripple effect reaches the entire community.

Second, there is no better place to invest if you are seeking results. Small investments pay huge dividends. When people recover, they are able to work, complete education, maintain housing, care for their families and stay out of the hospital.

As the New Year begins and state spending deliberations get underway, let’s ask the Legislature to protect mental health funding for our state.

We also need to spread the word that Legislative funding alone will never meet all the needs. That’s where you and I come in. Are you willing to get involved so everyone has a chance at “a wonderful life?” If so, follow this link.

To contact your legislators and tell them to fund mental health and substance abuse treatment, follow this link.

Thanks for helping create wonderful lives.