Oklahoma Senators Urged to Preserve Millions in Federal Funding to Maintain Progress Against Opioid Crisis

Sophia Majlessi
(202) 621-1631

Three Behavioral Health Centers Providing Essential Services to Thousands Will Lose Critical Funding Without Immediate Congressional Action

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. (March 19, 2019) – Six law enforcement leaders in Oklahoma sent letters to either U.S. senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) or James Inhofe (R-Okla.), or both, urging them to support the recently introduced Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/H.R. 1767). This legislation will ensure that Oklahoma does not abandon the progress made in expanding mental health and addiction care by extending current Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) activities for two more years. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R-Okla.) is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill and a strong supporter of efforts to expand mental health services and combat the opioid epidemic.

The 2014 bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act established CCBHC demonstration projects in eight states, including Oklahoma. Since launching in 2017, Oklahoma CCBHCs have leveraged new funding to dramatically improve partnerships with criminal justice agencies to implement innovative interventions and increase access to community-based addiction and mental health care, particularly opioid addiction services. CCBHCs in Oklahoma have hired new addiction-focused clinicians, expanded medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other addiction services and reduced patient wait times. However, with CCBHC demonstration funding set to expire on March 31, 2019, access to these lifesaving treatments in Oklahoma could be lost without immediate Congressional action.

“Oklahoma CCBHCs are on the cutting edge, leveraging mobile technology to expand their collaboration with law enforcement and rapidly connect people with behavioral health and addiction resources,” said Assistant Chief James Willyard, Pryor Creek Police Department. “Our emergency rooms and jails are overburdened and the services provided by the CCBHCs have been instrumental in diverting people to more appropriate and effective treatment.  Without the federal CCBHC funding, I am afraid we will once again see overcrowded jails, longer ER wait times and police officers stretched thin.”

In less than two years, the three CCBHCs in Oklahoma have:

  • Added more than 180 full-time staff, including psychiatrists, therapists, telehealth clinicians and substance use disorder treatment providers.
  • Served more than 40,000 individuals in Oklahoma with increased mental health services, substance use screenings, health care screenings and care coordination with primary care providers.
  • Ensured availability of same-day access for initial appointments at all three clinics.
  • Expanded the scope of their addiction treatment services to include increased availability of MAT for the treatment of opioid use disorder; every CCBHC now offers all three types of MAT, compared to only 36 percent nationwide.
  • Reduced inpatient psychiatric admissions by 95 percent in seven-counties in Northeast Oklahoma based on services provided by the largest CCBHC, producing as much as $15 million in estimated savings over three years.
  • Increased the number of veterans receiving care.
  • Partnered with criminal justice agencies to help reduce recidivism and with hospitals to decrease hospitalizations and improve care transitions.

“Like the rest of the nation, Oklahoma has been impacted by opioid crisis and our officers are often the first ones on the scene of an overdose,” said Detective Sergeant Jim Warring, Bartlesville Police Department.  “The CCBHCs have provided our officers with Narcan kits, which enable them to move quickly to revive overdose victims. Staff from the CCBHCs are working with officers to develop treatment interventions to help some of the most troubled individuals in our community get the care they need, whether it’s in response to an addiction or a mental health crisis. Together, we are saving lives and improving the safety of our officers as well as our community. It would be a tragedy to let this important work end.”

Oklahoma’s three CCBHCs are:

  • Red Rock Behavioral Health Services: Serves more than 20 counties.
  • Grand Lake Mental Health Center: Serves 13 counties.
  • NorthCare: Serves Oklahomans of all ages throughout all of central Oklahoma and neighboring counties.

The following law enforcement officials sent letters to either Sen. Lankford or Sen. Inhofe, or both:

  • Stan Brown, Chief of Police – City of Claremore Police Department
  • Jon Copeland, Undersheriff – Washington County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mark Morris, Chief – Grove Police Department
  • Tracy Roles, Chief of Police – Bartlesville Police Department
  • Scott Walton, Sheriff – Rogers County Sheriff’s Office
  • James Willyard, Assistant Chief of Police – Pryor Creek Police Department


The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 3,000 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 1.5 million Americans have been trained.

About The National Council

Founded in 1969, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is a membership organization that drives policy and social change on behalf of over 3,400 mental health and substance use treatment organizations and the more than 10 million children, adults and families they serve. We advocate for policies to ensure equitable access to high-quality services. We build the capacity of mental health and substance use treatment organizations. And we promote greater understanding of mental wellbeing as a core component of comprehensive health and health care. Through our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, we have trained more than 3 million people in the U.S. to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.