DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) - A local organization that offers a wide variety of counseling services is looking to expand, but they need your help.
Youth Services for Stephens County is in Duncan but serves all of Stephens County as well as Jefferson and Cotton Counties. In addition to offering free counseling services to children, they also have several programs for adults ranging from individual counseling to mental health and substance abuse services.
When it comes to mental illness, Oklahoma is ranked third in the nation. The state is second in the nation in substance abuse disorders. Executive Director for Youth Services of Stephens County Sara Orellana - Paape said something needs to change.
"I think that mental health is going to soon reach outbreak proportions. I'm not trying to be over dramatic but the number of people who suffer from PTSD or depression or anxiety and who choose to suffer in silence rather than have the stigma attached to them is astronomical. It is our duty as citizens to reach out to them and offer a helping hand," Orellana – Paape said.
Orellana - Paape said Youth Services for Stephens County is trying help as many people as possible, but financially they aren't always able to.
"We are very aware that there is not funding available to offer free funding to adults so we often have to charge adults for drug and alcohol services," Orellana – Paape said. "We charge state rates or we have to charge them on a sliding scale for counseling. That can be very difficult for quite a few people so we want to raise funds that we can offer our services at no costs."
The organization receives most its funding from the Office of Juvenile Affairs, most of which is used to offer free services for those under 18. But if they can raise more money from the community, they would be able to offer free services for adults, and may also be able to achieve their goal of having a presence in the school system.
"Our goal this year is through a partnership with Duncan schools," Orellana – Paape said. "To be in the schools and offering life skills classes or any kind of curriculum and have staff on hand to help with a crisis or help a student in need. We also want to partner with other non-profits like Gabriel's house and say we have a counselor who can come once a week. Just something where people can become more familiar with mental health and access it easier."
Orellana - Paape said they are accepting donations and every cent will go directly into helping those in need.
"I'm actually going to keep records of our donors and send them nothing fancy, but a one or two page report with bullet points that say because of your dollars we were able to expand services in these three counties by this, this, and this and hold ourselves very accountable to the donors," Orellana – Paape said.