OK Policy announces Fellowship program focusing on mental health, addiction


TULSA, OK (July 25, 2018) –Oklahoma Policy Institute, in response to the critical needs in Oklahoma’s mental health care and addiction services, has announced a new fellowship program to prepare early-career professionals to become highly competent advocates for impactful policy reform.

The Oklahoma Mental Health Policy Fellowship is a two-year, full-time paid program. OK Policy recognized the need for more dedicated attention to mental health-specific policy following the release of a Tulsa regional mental health report published in March 2018 by the Urban Institute, in collaboration with other Tulsa-based agencies and organizations. The report showed one in seven Tulsans has a mental illness and one in three Oklahoma children encounters two or more adverse childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect.

In addition to the Mental Health Policy Fellowship, OK Policy will add a new Mental Health Policy Analyst position. Seed funding for the fellowship and policy analyst has been provided by The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.

“We must do better in Oklahoma,” said David Blatt, executive director of OK Policy. “With this program, we’re not only responding to immediate community needs. We are creating and nurturing a pipeline of Oklahoma-based mental health advocates who will work to reform state policies for years to come.”

Blatt said the impact goes beyond mental health and addiction to other critical areas, including criminal justice, education, poverty, and the state budget.

Through the program, each fellow will be assigned a well-recognized, Tulsa-based mental health professional mentor. Fellows will learn from their mentor and from OK Policy professionals through a curriculum that includes experiential learning, policy research and analysis, project development, guided self-study, and advocacy practice.

“This fellowship program and the new policy analyst start something that will influence better care, better funding and better outcomes for mental health in Oklahoma,” said Bill Major, executive director of The Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation. “If the Urban Institute report revealed anything to us, it is that without adequate funding and support for mental health services in Oklahoma, we cannot and will not improve, no matter how hard our community works together.”

To strengthen OK Policy’s work on mental health and addiction issues, OK Policy will separately add a new policy analyst who will lead the organization’s work in those areas. That analyst will also oversee the Fellowship program in coordination with other program leaders. OK Policy has opened applications for both the policy analyst and the first two fellows in the new program.

The fellowship is a full-time, two-year program designed for early professionals who plan to incorporate expertise gained during the fellowship in their later careers in a wide range of fields. Applicants must have completed a degree program no more than two years prior to application, and preference will be given to those with a graduate or professional degree. Prior to application, fellow candidates must have demonstrated their interest in mental health or addiction issues as well as policy advocacy. Those selected must commit to the two-year fellowship and exhibit an intent to work in the Tulsa area or elsewhere in Oklahoma upon completion of the program.

The mental health policy analyst and fellowship coordinator is a full-time, long-term position with OK Policy. This individual will conduct research and analysis of policy issues related to mental health, including substance use disorders, incarceration, and access to care, while also guiding fellows’ research and collaborating with community partners on Fellowship curriculum and programming. Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

The deadline to apply for all positions is August 13. To learn more, go to: https://okpolicy.org/oklahoma-mental-health-policy-fellowship/.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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