4 minute read

Monday night Oklahoma 5th District Representative Kendra Horn held a town hall on mental health but ended up answering a lot of questions about the possible impeachment of President Trump.

No Congress member wastes time during a planned break and the Congresswoman is no exception.

Horn volunteered at a food bank on Monday morning.

That evening, she joined panel members she had invited to a town hall on mental health issues as a way of publicly brainstorming the needs of the communities within the 5th District which includes most of Oklahoma City, Edmond and most of Pottawatomie and Seminole counties to the southeast of the metro.

The event was at Northcare Pete White Health and Wellness Center at 4021 S. Walker Ave and their meeting room was full and with some standing along the walls.

Mental Health

“The panel will discuss efforts to reduce stigma for treatment, connecting with quality service providers, and pathways to opportunities for recovery,” said an email from Horn’s office for the event.

Horn has co-sponsored legislation that would help law enforcement gain better access to behavioral health training.

The panel included Terri White, commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Kayse M. Shrum, D.O., President of OSU Center for Health Sciences; Kris Steele, executive director of The Education and Employment Ministry, (TEEM); Carrie Blumert, Oklahoma County commissioner; and, Kaitlynn Wilkinson, communications specialist for Northcare.

“Mental health is overall health,” said Horn in her opening remarks. “Mental Health cannot be separated from the rest of our physical health.”

mental health panel
Town Hall panelists are L-R, Kaitlynn Wilkinson, Carrie Blumert, Rep. Horn, Kris Steele, Dr. Kasye M. Shrum, and Terri White. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

The rest of the panel discussion centered on how communities can de-stigmatize open discussion and treatment of mental health as a part of a person’s overall health.

One in four struggle

Terri White with ODMH gave some jarring numbers about mental health in Oklahoma.

Every year one in every four Oklahomans struggle with some sort of mental health and addiction problem.

But, only one in three who needs help will actually access help.

She said that “amazing things happen” for people who do seek treatment.

“Lives are saved. Lives are transformed. Parents return to their children. Sisters, mothers, daughters, friends return to their families. People are productive and working.”

White said that the problem is that too often those services come only when there is a crisis like an attempted suicide.

Blumert, Horn, Steele
L-R, Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert, Rep Kendra Horn, and Kris Steele, executive director of TEEM. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

County Commissioner Blumert told of the various community service proposals that have been included in the MAPS 4 package that voters will decide to accept or reject on December 10.

Programs like Palomar and the Diversion hub were just a few of the several programs Blumert explained.

At another point in the panel, Blumert was critical of District Attorneys across the state who continue to lock up people as though they are healthy people who have decided to commit criminal behavior.

Blumert said that the DAs are a part of the problem Oklahoma has in locking up large numbers of people who actually should be getting treatment for mental illness.

She encouraged those present to seriously do research and ask questions the next time there is a district attorney race in Oklahoma, which will be in 2022.

Press conference after

Horn answered questions from local media first who asked further questions about the programs she supports in her district.

She said that the reason she supported the bill that allows banks to do business with medical marijuana dispensaries is that “it is a safety issue.” She said that without banks, dispensary owners have to carry around large quantities of cash which makes them vulnerable to robbery.

It’s also important because it means it will bring in more tax money because income can be more easily traced if it moves through the banks, Horn said.

Also, she pointed out that when that cash gets deposited in banks the money then becomes a part of the larger economy.

The bill was “strongly bipartisan, passing out of the House with almost 300 votes,” said Horn.

Impeachment

Horn answered a string of questions about what her approach was going to be on impeachment. Most of the national media present were the most interested to see if she would make any statements about whether or not she thought President Trump should be impeached.

She declined to decide before the investigation was complete, which many in the national media didn’t seem to comprehend. The video that follows is one of the exchanges with a national TV reporter.

Trump supporters

A small group of Trump supporters stood outside before the meeting waving a Trump rally flag and holding signs that showed support for Trump.

Free Press talked with Brian Imes who was in that group.

His take on Horn beating long-term incumbent Steve Russell in the last election was because an “air of complacency” among Republicans that had grown over the years that a Republican had comfortably held the 5th District seat.

“We are here to let Kendra know – respectfully – that we want this district to turn back red,” said Imes.



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