Healthy Connections for OK Youth
Garrett Lee Smith State

Healthy Connections for OK Youth, an enhanced continuation of the Oklahoma Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Initiative, improves our ability to ensure that once a young person is at risk for suicide, they are compassionately and promptly connected with the appropriate level of care. The target population for Health Connections will be Oklahomans ages 10-24, with a special focus on students served by schools partnering with OK Systems of Care for Behavioral Interventions and Support Services (BISS). As a Cohort I, IV, VI and IX grantee of SAMSHA’s Garrett Lee Smith initiative, the State of Oklahoma has been able to take important steps toward the development of a public health infrastructure to promote the prevention of suicide. Through improved connections between our state’s strong prevention efforts and robust youth mental health care system, Health Connections will streamline the process of linking a young person in distress to the appropriate lifesaving level of care and support for themselves and their families by linking a comprehensive approach to school based suicide prevention with personalized wrap around behavioral interventions and timely access to mental health care. Project goals are to: 1) Increase the capacity of school personnel and staff from youth serving entities to identify a young person in distress and compassionately connect them with the appropriate level of assistance. 2) Increase the number of youth at risk for suicide who receive the appropriate level of care in a timely manner. 3) Increase access to healing supports and resources for those impacted by suicide. Initiatives to achieve project goals include providing online evidence-based suicide prevention gatekeeper training to k-12 school personnel statewide, then working closely with selected school sites to implement comprehensive suicide prevention, intervention and postvention training to create effective policies and protocol for the identification and referral of students at risk as well as a “return to learn” protocol for assisting students and their families with a smooth transition back to school following a hospitalization. Combined training initiatives will enable this project to provide training to behavioral health staff serving Oklahoma’s most at risk youth for mental or emotional disorders, including those in foster care, juvenile justice and allow us to reach their families with healing resources following a suicide attempt or death. This project will impact the lives of 350,000 Oklahomans over the next five years.