OK Policy now taking applications for 2019-2021 Mental Health Policy Fellowship

TULSA, OK (February 8, 2019) –Oklahoma Policy Institute (OK Policy) is now accepting applications for the 2019-2021 class of Mental Health Policy Fellows. This fellowship program is designed to prepare early-career professionals to become highly competent advocates for impactful policy reform.

The fellowship was launched in 2018 with seed funding from The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation. The first group of two fellows will continue with the program through 2020, overlapping with an additional two fellows beginning this year.

“With our first class of fellows now entering their second year, this program is off to a strong start at creating a pipeline of Oklahoma-based mental health advocates,” said Fellowship Coordinator Lauren Turner. “This is a great opportunity for Oklahomans in any field who want to influence better outcomes for mental health.”

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.

“The mental health of Oklahomans impacts numerous critical areas in our state, including education, the economy, the justice system, and the state budget,” said Turner. “Improving mental health policy requires advocates from many different sectors, including schools, the law, health care, and public office. Creating those advocates is what this fellowship is designed to do.”

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.

“Being a Mental Health Policy Fellow has allowed me to be mentored by a community leader while pursuing my own interests related to mental health in an effort to reduce stigma,” said 2018-2020 Mental Health Policy Fellow Brittany Hayes. “I feel equipped to be a mental health advocate.”

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. Out of state candidates will be considered, but 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 deadline to apply for the fellowship is March 1, 2019. 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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