Recovery Starts Here

Mental Health Court changes lives

Montreal remembers when his life began to spiral downhill. He was 12 years old when his brother was murdered. At age 14, he ended up drifting from place to place when his grandmother could no longer care for him.

“I self-medicated with marijuana,” Montreal said. “I was always hyper, never calm, and I just went through life not thinking about what I was doing.”

At age 30, he found himself in Tulsa District Court once again for possession of marijuana and fake money. This time, Montreal was given a chance to attend Tulsa County’s Mental Health Court and receive a diagnosis and treatment. He graduated April 28 and is planning for a better future.

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Montreal said the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder helped him finally understand the source of his behaviors and the visions and voices that he had experienced since his brother’s death.

A combination of three medications and weekly treatment changed Montreal’s life, he said.

Montreal said he lost a lot of friends as his behavior changed. “I didn’t want to go out anymore or do the same things. I tried to talk to people about it but they weren’t open to change.

“My kids see a difference in me,” Montreal said. “They say, ‘I like this you,’ and I am spending more time with them, helping with their homework. I never did that before. I was always leaving and could never stay still.”

Therapist Lucinda Morte says Montreal wants to see others succeed and helps people who are struggling in his groups. She is impressed with how far he has come.

“I’ve actually let him lead group a couple of times,” Lucinda said.

In the past nine months, Counseling & Recovery Services has had 88 people enter its mental health court program, about one third of all of Tulsa County Mental Health Court clients.  A record of four clients graduated April 28, and three more are near graudation, said Adult Clinical Director Kim Benkert.

Completing Mental Health Court isn’t easy. It requires clients to meet court and treatment requirements.

“The time it takes to complete depends on the individual,” Benkert said. “For most people, it takes about a year and a half. That’s a big commitment. That is why we are so proud of our graduates.”