Oklahoma Policy Institute has grown a lot in the past few years. From humble beginnings in 2008, we now have a staff of 19, including talented individuals who focus on a wide range of policy issues, intensive data analysis, outreach, communications, events and operations, and more. To give you a better idea of who we are and what we all do, we are running an OK Policy Blog series highlighting our staffers.
For this edition, here’s Maggie den Harder, Mental Health Policy Fellow:
What do you do at OK Policy?
As a Mental Health Policy Fellow, I research, write, advocate, and learn about mental health and substance abuse policies, regulations, programs, and resources. I have the opportunity to learn from experts as well as work alongside them to further my knowledge of mental health and substance use disorder treatment issues so I can continue to advocate for needed policy reforms in the community and at all levels of government.
What’s your favorite thing about doing this work?
I enjoy connecting the impact access to mental health and substance use services—both preventative and emergent—can have on individuals, families, special populations, communities, and other policy areas.
What would you most like Oklahoma to become a “Top 10 State” in?
Health equity. While there is supposed to be coverage parity for mental health and substance use treatment, the reality is there is often times not. Often in our state, those who identify as women, particularly women of color, immigrants, and/or LGBTQ+ either cannot, feel unsafe doing so, or have barriers to accessing adequate and proper care. Expanding access to health care can help mitigate some of these problems, but we also need to focus on improving social determinants of health. In order for Oklahoma to be a top 10 state in health equity, we must confront and address our state’s systemic and institutional racism, work to restore the refundable EITC, increase access to safe, affordable housing, address historic redlining, and pay Oklahomans living wages as well as expanding health care.
What else should OK Policy’s readers know about you?
During my time in Oklahoma and at OK Policy I’ve developed (or maybe recognized something that was always there) a passion for ensuring birthing people have access to care and support during, before, and after labor, so spend as much time studying all things preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum I can. I decided that this year would be the year to accomplish things I’ve been putting off, so recently took a class to become a doula to further my work in birthing advocacy and support AND, on a totally unrelated note, will start cello lessons soon (because I’ve wanted to learn how to play for years now).