NAMI Oklahoma

It is the mission of NAMI Oklahoma to improve the quality of life for children, adults and their families who are affected with a mental illness.

Friday, August 22, 2008

About Our Director

In October 2007, the NAMI Oklahoma Board of Directors appointed Karina Forrest as Executive Director. Ms Forrest previously served as Director of the only state operated substance abuse and co-occurring treatment center for adolescents, Norman Adolescent Center. Ms Forrest also worked as Director of Prevention and Education programs at A Chance to Change Foundation and as Health Policy Liaison at the Office of the Governor for the State of Oklahoma. She has also served as a Leadership Mentor in the States of Oklahoma and Arkansas for the Mid America Addiction Technology Transfer Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to her experience in mental health and addiction services, she worked as a business manager at BeSore and Hunt, LLC, in Grove Oklahoma, between 1991 and 2000. She is dedicated to the mission of NAMI Oklahoma, working to improve the quality of life for all whose lives are affected by these diseases.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Position Paper Released

The NAMI Oklahoma has released a position paper on Improving Oklahoma’s Mental Health Care System. To read this form go to and click on Board of Directors. Then click on position paper. We look forward to your feedback.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mental Illness & The Right to Vote

A New York Times article titled “States Face Decisions on Who Is Mentally Fit to Vote” (requies free log in to view article) has heightened concerns over a possible trend toward exclusion as a result of Virginia Tech. But the issue actually is an old one, which arises occasionally when someone seeks to enforce existing provisions of state law that prohibit certain people with mental illnesses from voting. NAMI considers such laws to be unconstitutional. What do you think?

Missing Persons Support

I was really excited to see that NAMI has prepared a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on what to do when your loved one with mental illness is missing, and ways you can provide support once the person is located.

Many of the calls we get are about this topic. I encourage you to look at this resource and pass it along to others.

There is also an online discussion group where you can ask questions and share support. To read more click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thank You, NAMI Oklahoma!

I will conclude nine years of service to NAMI on Friday, August 17. I have learned many things during my tenure with this excellent organization and and have met so many tremendous people. I will miss working with this great movement every day but know that in my new role I will have the opportunity to pursue the high standards of expectations established by my NAMI friends.

When I first joined this organization, I remember the profound impact of these ten words that accompanied all of our grassroots advocacy alerts: "If it is to be, it is up to me". These are powerful words and ring as true today as ever. To continue changing the tide, it is important that our members understand that their energy is required to address the inequities that remain even today.

It has been a privilege serving you for the past nine years. I ask that you continue to share with me your goals and expectations for Oklahoma's mental health care system as I begin my new job at ODMHSAS.

Best wishes,

Steven Buck

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Interesting Comments

I recently ran across comments from a local pastor explaining his experience in a local recovery program. I thought these comments may be of interest to you.

“The spiritual aspects of recovery cannot be underestimated, according to the Big Book. Working with the residents at Clay Crossing has re-emphasized that fact to me many times. The residents who have begun moving on their spiritual path, searching for truth in their own lives and relationships, continue to grow and improve. As they learn to follow the 12-steps of AA, they begin to see through the first three steps how important it is to connect with God. A power greater than themselves is essential to removing the guild and shame of the past when it is unearthed in step four and divulged in step five. All this begins to create a new way of looking at spirituality.

The varied backgrounds of the residents, sometimes void of spiritual history, present many challenges for the chaplain. Through Bible study and personal research many of the residents have learned about the grace of God that surpasses human understanding. Fears and phobias add to the complexity of cases for many residents. Dealing with mental abnormalities combined with genetic predispositions adds to the work being done to help residents. By tapping into God's grace, many have been able to dispose of the emotional baggage of the past which has hampered their social development.

Sometimes the chaplain's work involves education and encouragement, and sometimes a concerned, listening ear is what the resident needs most. Sometimes the chaplain's work involves education and encouragement, and sometimes a concerned, listening ear is what the resident needs most.”

Chaplain Will The Web site is

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

CNN Feature Worth the Read

In our state, there has been much conversation about people with mental illness showing up behind bars with greater and greater frequency. Tragically, the story is the same in states across our country. In its "Behind the Scenes" series, CNN reporters do a commendable job of painting the story that plays out over and over again across our country. I encourage you to read the story and share your perspectives on how we can end this cycle in Oklahoma. Just add your comments to this blog and I'll review your opinions, suggestions and concerns.

While on the topic of the criminal justice system and people experiencing mental illness, don't forget that your participation is invited in the work of our state's Transformation effort. To learn more about this process, and how you can play a role, visit the Innovation Center's website.

I look forward to your comments. -- SLB

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NAMI National Annual Convention in San Diego was a Blast!!

There are so many GREAT things to talk about regarding my attendance at the NAMI 2007 Annual Convention. The convention was held in San Diego, California, on June 20 - 24. If the location isn't GREAT enough for you read on.

My number one GREAT thing was the congenial environment we Okies brought with us and maintained around us, during our stay there. I was reminded of my family reunions; at my family reunions I arrive with love ones, upon my arrival I am reacquainted with distant cousins and other family members, invariably I always meet new family members instant bonds are formed. There were approximately 45 Oklahomans, in San Diego. NAMI Oklahoma (Through a grant from the Innovation Center) was able to offer 23 Convention Scholarships. The purpose of the scholarship was to support organizational development within NAMI Oklahoma affiliates. The award covered, airline fare, three (3) nights of lodging, and registration for the NAMI National Convention. At the convention we embraced each other much like cousins, instant bonds were formed. I was gitty with delight the song “We are family” vibrated in my mine; you may or may not know that song from the 1960's. However, there is another song I heard a lot while there, one I am sure you know. Nearly every time when I was asked "where I was from"? After I answered, the questioner would break into - - “OKLAHOMA where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…” It seems everyone in the country has heard our state song. I was Oklahoma proud when Terry Cline one of the Opening Plenary guest speakers was introduced. Our own Terry Cline former Commissioner of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, who now heads the Federal Department for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, was born and raised in Ardmore, OK, and is a graduate of Oklahoma State University; he spoke to hundreds of people on "Treatment, Leadership and Promising Practices... in mental health/illnesses in America. After his talk Terry received a standing ovation. I found myself behaving like a groupie. I ran on stage, asked him to pose for a photograph with me, I gave him a hug as if I was greeting a long lost cuz. Later, Terry came to our Oklahoma Caucus and took a picture with the Oklahoma delegation. The "Cream de la Cream", of the day, came for me when Terry recognized Steve Buck, ED of NAMI OK my "Servant Leader" and "Boss" Steve, Terry said is, "the man he looks up to as much as any". Terry praised Steve for his superb advocacy and leadership on Mental Health issues, it does not get much better than that, for Oklahoma Mental Health/Illness issues. That was my GREATEST happening at the NAMI National Convention. Where NAMI OK had a family reunion. You are welcome to join our GREAT NAMI OK family!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Healthcare Expansion an Important Win in 2007

Many Oklahomans stand to benefit from legislation passed in 2007 that makes significant progress in addressing our state's uninsured. Through two measures, families that earn up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level can enroll their children in SoonerCare. This bill cleared the way for 42,000 state children to gain access to services, including behavioral health care. The legislature also broadened the ceiling for workforce size for those employers wanting to participate in O-EPIC, a state program that subsidizes the purchase of health coverage for working Oklahomans. New legislation allows employers up to 250 employees to offer the subsidy to employees earning up to 250% of the FPL.

Both of these advancements are important, providing better access to coverage for our state residents. It is appropriate to share appreciation with your legislators and Governor Henry's office for enacting this important legislation.

I am very interested in hearing from NAMI constituents about their experiences with O-EPIC and the marketing and outreach by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in implementing these new expansions.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Peer to Peer classes

Peer to Peer classes are starting again in OKC, have you signed up yet?

Ten Best Practices for Schools

The public is beginning to realize what a critical role that schools play in helping students who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses to reach their full academic and functional potential. The performance of students, both academically and behaviorally, significantly improves when their mental health needs are effectively addressed. NAMI has come up with a list of "Ten Best Practices for Schools" and is calling on all schools to adopt these. This might be something that you'd like to share with your child's school. For a list of these, contact me at or check the June 6 issue of our Mid-Week Minute.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One Rockin' Walk!

If you missed the Anna McBride Memorial NAMI Oklahoma Walk for the Mind on Saturday the 19th, you missed an awesome time. We had wonderful music, clowns, volunteers, great walkers and the best supporters in the world. Regatta Park was the perfect venue. NAMI Oklahoma says a big thank you to everyone that attended the walk and everyone that has supported us! I look forward to see how wonderful next years walk will be!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


When: Saturday, May 19, 2007
Where: Regatta Park – South of Bass Pro in Bricktown, Oklahoma City

Goals! - $100,000 - 500 Walkers - 40 Teams

Register your team or as a walker online at and click on OK, call the NAMI Oklahoma Office at 405-230-1900 / 800-583-1264 or email

Need more Walk Packets? We’ll be happy to get you more! Remember, ask your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, business associates to either Walk with you or support you.

You can raise $500 in 7 days!
1. Sponsor yourself first $25
2. Ask 4 family members to sponsor you for $25 each = $100
3. Ask 5 co-workers to contribute $15 each = $75
4. Ask 5 friends to contribute $20 each = $100
5. Ask 5 neighbors to sponsor you for $15 each =$75
6. Ask your boss or company to contribute $50 = $50
7. Ask 3 buisnesses you frequent to donate $25 each = $75
You’ve just raised $500!

Our success at the May 19th Walk depends on you.

One in five adults has a diagnosable mental disorder, and 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. are brain disorders. We are raising money to fight stigma, support families and people living with serious mental illnesses, educate the community and improve our mental health system of care for people with mental illnesses.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Virginia Tech

It has been one week since the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech and I still am numb at the weight of this event. There has been unprecedented discussion on mental illness in the wake of this event. Some has been constructive and other comments have been down-right mean spirited. NAMI had developed a nice package of materials related to VT and I invite those interested in learning more about resources available, please visit NAMI's website.

Monday, April 09, 2007

New Visions for Tomorrow Classes

On March 15, Lawton began a new Visions for Tomorrow class with 24 students, and are now up to 26! Palma Bucher & Becky Robson are teaching it. Palma says that they have 4 students who are interested in being trained to be teachers - great news! They have had 4 of the 8 classes so far. We began a new VFT class in Oklahoma City on April 2 with 7 students. It's not too late to join us, if you're interested. Just call Lisa at 230-1900.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NAMI Oklahoma Conference

NAMI Oklahoma held its 20th Annual statewide conference on March 29th - 31st. I feel it was a really successful conference. One the first day with the Veterans Summit I was really impressed with the passion that our speakers had on their topics. This was a timely topic and deserves to be addressed more in the future.

One of my favorite things about the NAMI Conference's is seeing the ever dedicated volunteers and supporters of NAMI Oklahoma every year. It is almost like a family reunion. I am also encouraged by meeting the new people that are just being introduced to NAMI and knowing that one day they will be one of the faces I see every year at the conference and other NAMI Oklahoma events.

I want to encourage you that if you get the opportunity to attend a NAMI Oklahoma event definitely make plans to do so.

Take Care - AV

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

100 Ideas for Oklahoma

At the conclusion of the Mental Health Day at the Capitol (March 8), NAMI Oklahoma is hosting an Idea Raiser at the request of Speaker Cargill's office as part of his desire to identify the best 100 ideas for Oklahoma's next century. You can read about this effort here..

NAMI Oklahoma will be offering a list of ideas for consideration as part of this initiative. So what ideas do you have about improving our healthcare system for persons experiencing mental illness? I am interested in hearing what you have to say; you can comment on this post and I will review input as I craft NAMI Oklahoma's list of suggestions.

It is important that our ideas be innovative and specific. It is not enough to say "we need more money" or "we need more services".

Take care and thank you! -- SLB

Friday, February 09, 2007

NAMI Walks Oklahoma

Last night, NAMI Oklahoma hosted an informational meeting for volunteers interested in our 2007 Walk (May 19, 2007 at Regatta Park in Oklahoma City). As part of my comments at the meeting, I stressed the importance of the Walk as it relates to two vital parts of what NAMI does. First, the Walk is a great vehicle to end the stigma associated with mental illness. (BTW - a great victory was achieved when GM pulled a very offensive ad from circulation that was debuted at the SuperBowl. NAMI National did a great job fighting the more here.) When the community sees so many people who are impacted by mental illness (consumers, family business, faith leaders, employers), it sends a clear message that mental illness is a medical illness, just like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or arthritis.

Of equal importance is the resources the Walk generates that allows NAMI Oklahoma and our state affiliate network to carry out our mission. A quick glance across the blog posts gives a full picture of how our organization is making a difference in communities across the state.

Please join us in Walking!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Date set for Visions Class

A date has been set for the Visions for Tomorrow class in the Oklahoma City area. This 8-week workshop will be held on Monday evenings, beginning April 2 and ending May 21. Class will start at 6:00 and last for approximately 2 1/2 hours. It will be held at Crossings Community Church in northwest Oklahoma City. This workshop is for caregivers of children/adolescents with a mental illness. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact Lisa Pickens at or 230-1900. There is no charge for this workshop.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Peer to Peer

Peer to Peer classes are starting in OKC in March. Has anyone signed up yet?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Visions For Tomorrow

Are you a caregiver to a child or an adolescent with a brain disorder? Do you know someone who is? This spring, NAMI OKlahoma will be offering an 8-week class called Visions for Tomorrow. This is a family member-to-member course. Teachers of the program are trained family members who have experienced first-hand the rewards and challenges of raising children with brain disorders. The course offers caregivers an opportunity to share experiences and learn valuable lessons from one another. The class and all materials are offered free of charge.

In the class, you will learn more about specific brain disorders, but also other valuable lessons, such as Communication Skills, Coping, Self-Care, and Problem Management, just to name a few.

If you think this is something that you might be interested in, please contact me. I'll be glad to answer any questions that you might have, or even put you on our list to be contacted when we have dates and locations. Don't let this opportunity slip away!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oklahoma's Innovation Center: An Important Player in Transformation

To help facilitate the transformation of Oklahoma's mental health and substance abuse system, the state created the Innovation Center. Housed in Oklahoma City with a satellite office in Tulsa, the Innovation Center is the incubator and connecting entity that is helping facilitate our state's transformation. For transformation to work, though, we cannot stand on the sidelines and expect the Innovation Center to do all the work. One of the fundamental objectives of transformation is to make the system consumer and family driven. This means we all have roles to play and believe me, there is plenty of work to do. Want to make a difference? Visit the Innovation Center. You can also contact me at NAMI Oklahoma and I'll help find a way to connect you to this exciting effort!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

HR 4 Under Consideration by US House

The House will consider HR 4 by the end of this week as part of their 100 hour agenda. HR 4 would significantly change the Medicare Part D benefit by allowing the federal government to directly negotiate drug prices. Our national organization has put together a well-developed letter that outlines specific concerns with HR 4 (see the 1/10 issue of Mid Week Minute to access the letter). The cost of pharmaceuticals is a topic meritorious of debate; however, it is important to note that it is a complex issue and for every decision there are unanticipated consequences. Policy makers should remember that the people who rely upon these life-saving medications cannot become pawns in this game of economic chess. People experiencing chronic health conditions, whether they be related to mental illness or cancer, deserve access to therapies that work. As always, we welcome your thoughts!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hope for Tomorrow

Hope for Tomorrow is off to a quick start in 2007. Over 260 schools in 33 Oklahoma counties will be receiving a preview DVD in the mail next week. This is a FREE program targeted at middle and high school students. It's 3 main areas are: Mental Disorders, Substance Abuse, and Eating Disorders. The purpose of it is to Erase the stigma of mental illness, Raise the awareness of mental illness, and Foster hope for our teens. This is for ALL students - not just those already suffering in any of these areas.

If you have questions about this program or know of a school or youth group that you think would benefit from Hope for Tomorrow, please contact me (or blog back) at NAMI Oklahoma. I would love to hear from you!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New Year -- Time for Resolutions!

On behalf of the board and staff of NAMI Oklahoma, Happy New Year! 2007 is a year of great opportunity. It is custom to make resolutions as part of our holiday celebration. My personal resolution is to help NAMI Oklahoma expand our network of passionate advocates who want to make a difference for people experiencing mental illness. That means better outreach, fund raising, education and advocacy. I'm interested in any resolutions you are making related to NAMI's mission: improving the quality of life for children, adults, and families who are affected by mental illness.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I always have mixed feelings at holidays. On one hand, I love being with my family and having a bit more relaxed schedule. On the other hand, I know that holidays and the change of pace don't always deal very well with some members of my family. They do better with consistency and rigidness. I think most of us do - at least I can say that for myself. But knowing that, I still go into most holidays hoping this will be one of the "better ones". I hope I can always feel that way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mid-Week Minute Announces Blog

Hello and welcome to the new members of our "blogging" community. We have been testing out our blog for a while now and decided to officially announced it in our Mid-Week Minute released today.

Participants in the NAMI Oklahoma "blogging" community are encouraged to practice the “Golden Rule”. Our community is not designed to be a forum for criticism, negativity, or malice. Rather, it is a forum for helping identify opportunities for improving the quality of life for individuals, families and friends that experience mental illness. NAMI Oklahoma reserves the right to monitor blog entries and to disallow any posts that violate the spirit of our community.

I hope you enjoy our post and I look forward to your comments.

Oklahoman Editorial and Mandates

In today's issue of the Daily Oklahoman , the editorial board published an opinion related to health insurance premiums and the impact of mandates on the cost of coverage. In the late '90's, our state passed a very important mandate: parity coverage for mental illness. The bill that authorized the coverage (SB 2) is far from perfect; it exempts too many businesses from offering parity and does not include treatment for addiction. However, for many in our state, this mandated coverage has made a tremendous impact through early identification and treatment of mental illness, continued employment for those experiencing psychiatric illness, and preserved family relationships.

I predict that mandates will receive great attention from legislators in 2007. Without question, Oklahomans need health insurance to be affordable and accessible and it is only fair that the reasons for premium increases be investigated thoroughly. However, as part of that evaluation, we must remind policy makers that for people experiencing mental illness, anything short of parity is discriminatory and wrong.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Commissioner Cline and SAMHSA

President Bush has tabbed ODMHSAS Commissioner Terry Cline to serve as the administrator of SAMHSA. This is a well-deserved appointment for Dr. Cline. In my opinion, he will be missed by Oklahomans as he has been a real champion of persons experiencing mental illness. He has also been a good friend to NAMI. I am interested in hearing how others feel about the job he has done as our commissioner. Take a moment or two and drop us a line with your comments.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Go to the Polls on Tuesday, November 7!

Voters in Oklahoma have an important task ahead of them on Tuesday, November 7th. On this date, voters in our state (as well as other states across our country) will select our state and Congressional representatives. Each of us have opinions on who will best represent the interests of persons experiencing mental illness and there is likely a lot of disagreement among NAMI Oklahoma members on who is best for the job. That said, regardless who you vote for, the important thing is to vote! If you are unsure of your eligibility or don't know where your precinct is located, please contact your county election board ( A list of all candidates in Oklahoma standing in the general election is available at

Have a great Tuesday and DON"T FORGET TO VOTE!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Do You Get the Mid-Week Minute?

Interested in what's happening in the NAMI Oklahoma family? We publish a weekly e-newsletter called the Mid-Week Minute. Free to any who want to receive the publication, you can be added to our distribution list by emailing us at The NAMI Oklahoma family needs YOU to be involved to carry out our mission. There is no better way to stay on top of what's going on by subscribing to Mid-Week Minute!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Nothing official yet, but it appears that the 2007 NAMI Oklahoma Conference will be March 29 thru the 31st. The location will be in Oklahoma City.

As for the 4th Annual Anna McBride Memorial Walk for the Mind of America, the most likely date is May 19, 2007. We would like to host the event at Regatta Park in Oklahoma City along the Oklahoma River. If you participated in the Regatta Walk held in October, we are interested in your experience with this location.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Welcome to the NAMI Oklahoma blog! We hope you enjoy our post and we look forward to your comments.