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Access to help: The 'folks in the middle' often fall through the system's cracks

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: June 9, 2013

Shaelynn Listen doesn't miss the orchestra.

It used to play nonstop in her head. It was sort of like how a person might hear voices.

The only way to make it stop was to pick up her flute.

Years of undiagnosed anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, mixed with relentless bullying since third grade, had driven Listen to a dark place.

Music was her only escape.

“I remember certain times I would go up to my mother and say, ‘What's wrong with me? I don't like feeling like this,'” Listen said. “And once I finally got the answer to all of my questions, it was almost like a sigh of relief — that I finally have a name to explain why I'm feeling like this.”

In college, Listen started seeing a psychologist, whom she was manipulating. She would tell the doctor what needed to be heard. Meanwhile, at home, she was abusing Xanax, marijuana and any opiate that was around.

What many families don't realize is, although the psychologist can't tell them anything about their adult children, family members can tell the psychologist about what behavior they're seeing.

“I finally had to come to a place where I had to quit denying that there was something radically wrong and she needed some really intense treatment,” said Listen's mother, Eileen Morefield.

One morning, Morefield called Listen's psychologist. That afternoon, Listen was admitted into the St. Anthony outpatient treatment program.

“That does not usually happen,” Morefield said.

Many face obstacles

Morefield, who volunteers with an Edmond support group, often hears stories of people who can't get help. Either the wait is long, or they're uninsured and don't qualify for a service.

Listen was insured and already had a psychologist. She could ease into a program quickly.

Sometimes, uninsured Oklahomans who need mental health treatment can find help through community mental health centers, which receive public money.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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