OPEA members who work at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services attended a fundraiser for the Oklahoma Mental Health Consumer Council on May 1. The featured speaker at the event was Patty Duke.
Patty Duke inspired the creation of the Council seventeen years ago when Oklahoma mental health consumer advocate and long-time OPEA member Jerry Risenhoover visited with Patty at a national conference. He heard her story of mental health challenges and her road to recovery. After meeting with Patty, Risenhoover was convinced that Oklahoma mental health consumers needed a consumer-run statewide advocacy organization.
“You are not only saving lives, you are saving souls,” Duke told the audience. “These souls become taxpayers and productive citizens.”
She told the crowd about her challenges with bi-polar disorder and her diagnosis 26 years ago after suffering for almost two decades.
“I have experienced the miracle,” she said.
Attending the event were OPEA DMHSAS Council Chair and Board Member Dixie Jackson, Tim Creedon, and Diane Hardersen of Griffin Memorial Hospital; Chris Olson and Lydia Hilton of Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center; and Hank Swearigen, Prinda Heaverin, and Monica Scott of Jim Taliaferro Community Mental Health Center. Sterling Zearley and Trish Frazier of the OPEA staff also attended.
“We appreciated the opportunity to hear such an inspirational message of recovery and support the consumers,” said Jackson.