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Oklahoma, Texas host Rural Mental Health Summit

Joel Mease
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Oklahoma State Director, Kenneth Corn, and Texas State Director, Lillian Salerno, will host the Inaugural Texoma Rural Mental Health Summit May 23 at 9 a.m. in the Choctaw Nation Headquarters in Durant, Okla.

This free summit will focus on the unique geographical challenges and solutions for the ongoing rural mental health crisis in the Texoma Region. The summit will feature guest speakers from federal and state agencies, as well as tribal leaders, community leaders, health care professionals and nonprofit organizations who specialize in rural mental health.

“Folks in rural Texas and Oklahoma who suffer a mental health crisis are not able to access the services they need and many times the local sheriff, pastor, high school principal or neighbor is the only resource available to a rural person in crisis,” Salerno said. “Long driving distances, lack of internet and stigmas in asking for help all contribute to the mental health crisis in rural areas and we need to act now.”

Rural Development is hosting this summit due to the feedback State Directors have received from Oklahoma and Texas rural towns and tribal nation.

“President Biden has made it clear from day one, that the days of leaving behind our rural communities needs to end,” Corn said. “However, our rural and tribal communities are hitting roadblocks in their path to prosperity, because of the growing gaps in mental health services. Thankfully under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development is taking action after hearing from our neighbors in Oklahoma and Texas about these needs and start looking for real solutions with the professionals and advocates for improved mental health services in our communities.”

Health care professionals, government employees and mental health advocates, who are interested in participating in this free summit can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-texoma-rural-mental-health-summit-tickets-623926168967?utm-source=strongmail&utm-term=checkoutwidget&utm-campaign=social%2Cemail&utm-medium=discovery&utm-content=attendeeshare

The event is located at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Headquarters at 1802 Chukka Hina Drive in Durant.

Topics to be discussed:

Challenges of providing Mental Health Services in Rural Texoma

Law Enforcement and the Judiciary Challenges and Impact

Various Ideas to Address the Rural Mental Health Crisis

Speaker Lineup:

University of Houston

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics of Dangerous Drugs

Regional Sherriff's Office

US Department of Health and Human Services

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture

US Department of Agriculture

Choctaw Nation

US Department of Veterans Affairs

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/ok.