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Inside the Oklahoma mental health system: Urgent Recovery

Getting help during a mental health crisis can play an essential role in helping a person get treatment for a mental illness, and knowing what help is available can reduce the confusion.
by Jean Williams Modified: June 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm •  Published: June 27, 2014
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A mental health crisis can be scary for the person experiencing symptoms and frustrating for anyone trying to help. Knowing what help is availble can reduce the confusion. Urgent Care is the newest crisis service available in Oklahoma County.

“Like emergency medical services, crisis services are intended to be available to the entire community. Those receiving services may include individuals with a history of severe and persistent mental illness or a substance use disorder, or those who have never before used behavioral health services," according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in a report published last month.

Deneka Cain, director of the Oklahoma County Crisis Center, said the majority seeking services enter voluntarily.

“This is important when outcomes are typically better when those in crisis are ready to be active participants in their care,” Cain said.

Staff at the front desk greet people of the Oklahoma County Crisis Center, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Generally speaking, no one in need of crisis care is turned away or asked to pay. The new bright and comfortable building is located at 2625 General Pershing Boulevard.

The crisis center has a second entrance at the back. Used by the Oklahoma City Police Department and other state law enforcement agencies, this entrance was designed especially for this purpose. Police don't enter the unit.

There are two types of adult services at crisis center. There is the crisis unit with 16 private rooms, each with a bathroom. People have access to common areas and to an outdoor patio. Typical stays in this unit range from two to 10 days long.

The second service available at crisis center is the urgent recovery center. The maximum stay is 23 hours and 59 minutes. SAMSAH says, “The primary objectives of this level of care are prompt assessments, stabilization, and/or a determination of the appropriate level of care. The main outcome of 23-hour observation beds is the avoidance of unnecessary hospitalizations for persons whose crisis may resolve with time and observation,” according to SAMSHA.

The urgent recovery center could be compared to triage at a general hospital. An initial evaluation is done to assess the immediate needs of the person in crisis. Consistent with the best practices of crisis care, the priorities for care include trying to make the person feel safe, comfortable and listened to. Crisis center facilities include a washer and a dryer, a kitchen and a shower so that basic needs can be met promptly. A medically supervised detox can begin here, but if a higher level of care is called for, crisis center staff can arrange for the person to be transferred to a hospital.


by Jean Williams
NewsOK Contributor
My degree in Psychology did not prepare me to recognize mental illness in my own family. I authored the brochure "What to do in a Mental Health Crisis in Oklahoma County," not because I had the answers, but because I didn't. A wide variety of...
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