LAWTON, Okla._ Employees from Lawton's Jim Taliaferro Community Mental Health Center and Recovery Center gathered to recognize National Recovery Month.
The state's theme was "Join the Voices for Recovery, Visible, Vocal, Valuable." The aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues in Oklahoma and to get the word out that there is help.
The employees released purple balloons, with the color symbolizing the desire to not humiliate those who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse, and instead, to reach out.
A survey over the last year says 22 percent of Oklahomans have a mental illness. Another 12 percent said they have struggled with substance abuse. Those numbers rank as the second-highest in the nation.
Randy Honeycutt has worked with mental patients and those suffering from substance abuse for over 20 years. He says the two go hand-in-hand.
"The person could have an undiagnosed mental illness prior to them using some type of substance to change the way they may feel to help them deal with that mental illness, what we call self-medicating and then they become addicted to that substance," said Honeycutt.
He said cuts in the state's funding for mental health facilities has created a difficult road for those who need treatment.
"How much service we can give is based on our funding, we need funding, we need those legislatures to get that funding for us on a day to day basis so we can give that service to our citizens here in southwest Oklahoma," said Honeycutt.
Honeycutt said other challenges they face are running out space to room people and staffing. He said that it reveals the issues they are dealing with here at home.
"That it's out there every day, there are plenty of people that need the help. We don't want one person to fall through the cracks because that one person affects so many other people around them on a daily a basis," said Honeycutt.
Though the road is tough for those going through recovery, and those helping out, at the end of the day, it is something Honeycutt is proud of.
"There is nothing better, how much better can it be than to be involved in someone's life who can turn it around, it's a joy, makes it all worthwhile," said Honeycutt.