The ONIT Initiative

In 2013, President Obama announced the goal of a national conversation on mental health and the “Now is the Time” plan. The goal of the program is to increase access to mental health treatment, services and supports – particularly for youth and young adults.

In October of 2014, Oklahoma was one of 17 states awarded with a “Now is the Time” grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Oklahoma Now is the Time (ONIT) is using the five-year grant for three goals:

  • Increase awareness and establish access for the public and target population related to serious mental health conditions that impact young adults in transition.
  • Identify, reach out to and engage young adults in need of services.
  • Effectively treat and support young adults ages 16-25 in need of services.

A National Conversation

On January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama directed Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education to launch a national conversation on mental health to reduce the shame and secrecy associated with mental illness, encourage people to seek help if they are struggling with mental health problems, and encourage individuals whose friends or family are struggling to connect them to help.

Mental health problems affect nearly every family. Yet as a nation, we have too often struggled to have an open and honest conversation about these issues. Misperceptions, fears of social consequences, discomfort associated with talking about these issues with others, and discrimination all tend to keep people silent. Meanwhile, if they get help, most people with mental illnesses can and do recover and lead happy, productive, and full lives.

This national conversation will give Americans a chance to learn more about mental health issues. People across the nation are planning community conversations to assess how mental health problems affect their communities and to discuss topics related to the mental health of young people. In so doing, they may also decide how they might take steps to improve mental health in their families, schools, and communities. This could include a range of possible steps to establish or improve prevention of mental illnesses, promotion of mental health, public education and awareness, early identification, treatment, crisis response, and recovery supports available in their communities.

Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.Administrator SAMHSA

Paolo del Vecchio, MSWDirectorCenter for Mental Health Services SAMHSA

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is responsible for providing services to Oklahomans who are affected by mental illness and substance abuse. In FY13, ODMHSAS provided services to approximately 187,000 individuals.

Today, of the approximately 187,000 individuals receiving ODMHSAS services, fewer than 5 percent require hospital care. The majority take part in mental health and substance abuse outpatient programs, targeted community based services, prevention efforts and educational initiatives.

Oklahoma has become a national leader in several areas of community based services including the implementation of programs for assertive community treatment, alternative criminal justice initiatives such as drug and mental health courts, and comprehensive services for children and families.

Suffering from a mental or addictive disorder can be as frightening and debilitating as any major physical health disorder. The good news is that treatment works. There is hope, and there is help.

For additional information about the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, please visit: ok.gov/odmhsas or call 405-522-3908.

This website contains information from: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Community Conversations About Mental Health: Information Brief. HHS Publication No. SMA-13-4763. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.