Official website of Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism

Making future decisions for a journalism career

in 2016 Archive by

By Destyni Williams

Me (far right) just hanging out at a professional news desk. Photo by Mashiur Rahaman
Me (far right) just hanging out at a professional news desk. Photo by Mashiur Rahaman

Today was my first day at OIDJ, for the second time around of course. I was lucky enough to be selected to attend this journalism camp for two years in row. Last year I was the new kid on the block, just like every one else. This year, however, I had a leg up. I knew the director, the dean and assistant dean of Gaylord, and some of the coaches and volunteers on a first name basis.

First day jitters were non-existent; I was just excited to see some of the people I met the year prior. Excitement filled me as I saw some of my favorite coaches and volunteers returning to assist aspiring journalists.

Although today was the start of a unique experience the day started out like any other: with me ignoring my alarm clock and pushing the snooze button. When I finally mustered up the willpower to get up and going, I was presented the perfect opportunity to have a nap on the ride from Gaylord to the Oklahoman.

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed is one way to go about describing how I felt when the 2016 OIDJ group and I toured the most widely read newspaper in the entire state.

Prior to meeting with staff members and interns of the Oklahoman, I had my mind made up. I did not want to be one of those journalists stuck behind a desk, with the only chance of being recognized was from elderly ladies that read the local newspaper religiously. No, I wanted to be out in front of the camera and inside millions of homes across the country where everyone with a working television set would know my name (first, middle, and last).

Now I pretty much want the same thing, however I am no longer misinformed about what professional newspaper staffs do day in and day out. Although I still want to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, working in print publications is no longer something I would write on my “Never Attempt to do in a Million Years” list.

As an opinionated individual I find myself jumping to conclusions and being stuck on them like glue. Some examples: NEVER attend OU (under any circumstances), avoid dying career tracks (NEWSPAPER) like the plague, and most importantly don’t stay in Oklahoma after graduating high school.

In this very moment all but one of these statements cease to hold any amount of truth in them.

I’m 99.9% sure that I will attend the University of Oklahoma- and absolutely love it (the 0.1% left is just in case I am accepted into Columbia University with a full ride).

Right now I cannot think of a single dying career, much less the newspaper. Even though some people don’t pick up the newspaper, publications like The Oklahoman have increased their online visibility.

The one thing that I still haven’t changed my mind about is moving away from Oklahoma and to the city that never sleeps.

The lone gentleman participant at OIDJ

in 2016 Archive by
Naaman Henager
Naaman Henager

Today I woke up tired, which is really funny because I got at least eight hours of sleep. I have a room to myself, since I am the only guy here, and went to bed significantly early.

I was really nervous about today because at my school we do not have a writing club or program, and everyone here is involved in one. I thought today I wouldn’t know as much as the other students, but it actually turns out I knew more than I thought.

We went to the Oklahoman, and we met some really great people. When we met one woman from Kenya, I found her really intriguing. She told us about herself and why she became a journalist.

When we came back to Gaylord, we went around the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) campus.

I quickly fell in love with the library and the Great Reading Room.

A while later we got Starbucks, which I would say was the highlight of the tour. During the tour, Jeannette and I had a really great conversation about student council and college. I told her a little about BASIC and how it, in my opinion, is really amazing.

When we got back from the tour, we learned about interviewing and how it should be played out. After that I got even more curious on what journalism has to offer. Thankfully we met with the Dean, Ed, who told me and everyone else what Gaylord has to offer.

After dinner we met with Heather, and she taught us how to do a profile, which was very interesting. Something that really stood out to me was that everyone has something interesting about himself or herself that a profile can be based on. I would say my interesting thing would be I am looking at being a journalist, but I have not taken any journalism courses.

Coming into OIDJ, I had no idea what journalism had to offer. All I knew was that it was a job where I could write, but I quickly learned it is more than just writing: it is profiles, interviewing and a way to express yourself.

Going into today, I was reluctant and didn’t know if journalism was for me.

Getting my completion certificate with OIDJ director, Dorion Billups on the final day.

I can’t say that I know now what I want to do, but I think I am really considering journalism.

Being the only guy here is actually not bad at all. I find talking to people really interesting, and I enjoy getting to know more about people. I have an older sister so I know how to talk to girls and carry on a conversation with them. It is really easy when you have the same interests.

A day at The Oklahoman, and pondering Gaylord College

in 2016 Archive/Blogs/Uncategorized by

By Diana Lara

My experience at OIDJ so far has been eye opening. I got to visit The Oklahoman, and what I experienced was not what I expected it to be.


The OIDJ group visited multiple media outlets, including The Oklahoman. Photo by Mashiur Rahaman
The OIDJ group visited multiple media outlets, including The Oklahoman. Photo by Mashiur Rahaman


The atmosphere was very modern and it felt very friendly. It did not feel intimidating to be there, while speaking to those who work and intern there I realized there are different parts that help the industry function and make it what it is. For example, I did not know they had a website, let alone an actual person that was specifically in charge of running the sports part of it. Or that they send out people to basketball games in order for them to blog, tweet or write about it at the event.

This intrigued me since I am a fanatic of the Thunder. Later on in the day, we gathered and discussed how to have a great interview, instead of having a horribly awkward one, and how to ask the right questions that will make the interview interesting.

Adding onto that, we later had a session about profiles, which frankly, I have zero experience with. However, it seems really fun to gather information of somebody while thinking about what makes them unique or interesting, while learning about asking questions that give a brief description of who they are.

Something that was not new to me was what Gaylord College have to offer. They have different majors one can explore, but learning a brief description of every single one of them left me in awe as to what major I might want to pursue.

So now, the question is: what exactly do I want to do at Gaylord College?

OU fights ‘rape culture’ with education and awareness

in 2016 Archive/NPN/Uncategorized by

By Anushka Sukhadia

As the subject of campus rapes from Stanford to Baylor to Vanderbilt and beyond grab headlines across the nation, it resonates at the University of Oklahoma as well.

According to the 2015 Sooner Safety and Fire Report, OU had 12 sexual offenses reported to law enforcement in 2012, 22 in 2013 and 18 in 2014. However, many more cases have been reported to the Gender and Equality Offices, OU Advocates and Title IX. Data released to The Oklahoma Daily in fall 2015 shows the university’s Title IX Office has received 70 more sexual assault reports since 2012 than the safety report shows.

sexual assault stats

National data reinforce the significance of what’s come to be known as “rape culture” — an environment in which rape is prevalent and sexual violence is normalized. More than 11 percent of undergraduate and graduate students are raped at some time during their college careers, according to the 2015 Report on the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. Furthermore, college women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than they are to be robbed.

It begs the question: Are more rapes occurring, or are more rapes being reported?

“We definitely see a change within the education,” said Kasey Catlett, assistant director of OU’s Gender + Equality Center. “We definitely see it when it comes to bystander effect and we see that people are more empowered to stand up when they see something and in addition we have more and more calls for ending advocacy, that doesn’t mean that sexual assault is on the rise, it just means that people are aware of the services because gender-based violence is typically the most under-reported form of crime.

Catlett said another reason might be that more students feel equipped to do something. “(They) know that we have the resources and know how we can help.”

Major Bruce Chan, the spokesman for OU’s Police Department, echoed that.

“Since the number of rapes reported to us each year is relatively low, an increase of even one case represents a 25 percent increase,” Chan said. “That does not necessarily indicate that more rapes are taking place, just that one more person wanted to make a report.”

“As far as whether or not parties have anything to do with rape,” Chan continued, “I would note that while few, if any, of the cases reported to OUPD took place at a party, nearly all involved the use of alcohol by one or both of the individuals involved.”

OU provides educational programs to raise awareness of sexual assault, programs to educate the university community as well as services that also help survivors. OU police provide emergency response. The Division of Student Affairs provides counseling and support to survivors. The Institutional Equity and Title IX Office offers training on gender discrimination including sexual assault. Programs like “Step In, Speak Out”, and One Sooner train students on sexual assault and how to prevent and stop it. Counseling services in Goddard Health Center from the OU Advocates and the Gender + Equality Center are all available to provide help and support for survivors of sexual assault.

Still, the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014 reported that nationally four out of five female students did not report their abuse because they believed it was a personal matter. The percentage of female student victims, ages 18-24, who report to law enforcement is only 20 percent.

“Peer pressure has to do a lot with the fact that not as many cases are reported,” said an OU student named Brittany who did not want to give her last name. “People are scared to do something different and step away from their bubble and speak up. They don’t want to intervene or step up and say anything.”

While problems remain, Catlett and Chan hope to help educate students and keep them safe.

“More often than not, the students that typically come to us, seeking help, are freshmen and sophomores,” Catlett said. “Mostly because they have a new sense of freedom, a lot of students come into a campus right out of high school, they haven’t had the education over gender-based violence and when they get here, one, they no longer have their parents’ support and they have the freedom and they can go to parties. I’m not saying that parties are a reason of rape and sexual violence, but it’s an opportunity that perpetrators can take where there’s an abundance of alcohol and those are key ingredients for perpetrators.”



The race against rape culture

in 2016 Archive/NPN by

By Alexandria Doyle


When most people think of going to college they think of all the the cool things they’re going to do, being sexually assaulted is not one of them.

Campus rape culture exists at every university in America, and is a constant battle to fix. The University of Oklahoma is trying to combat sexual assault by first, educating freshmen at Camp Crimson, and second, by providing resources like crisis lines and advocates to victims.

But, what’s causing people to do these attacks and are the new changes really helping?

Major Bruce Chan of the OUPD said the department takes several helpful steps to tackle this issue from the moment they receive a report of sexual assault.

OUPD usually sends an officer who will write a report, protect the scene (if there is one), call in a detective who will take statements and call other campus resources.

According to Chan, there’s one thing that seems to be behind most of the rape cases he sees on campus “Alcohol. Victim, suspect, or both,” he said.  “[It] breaks down ability to communicate. …. There’s no excuse. People don’t understand ‘no’ when they’re inebriated.”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, at least half of sexual assaults reported in the U.S. involve alcohol.

Another factor that plays into sexual assault is drugs, with Rohypnol (also known as a “roofie”) being the most common one.

The Center for Gender and Equality is also trying to combat sexual assault by running a crisis line for victims and providing education to students. Assistant Director, Kasey Catlett said education can help reduce the number of sexual assaults and can also make bystanders feel more empowered to step in when they see red flags.

Catlett also mentioned that the rape culture usually stems from ‘toxic masculinity’. He said that the only way to change the culture would be to “continue educating” and “pushing back against rape culture.” Catlett said that the new programs being implemented campus-wide are helping end this trend.

Catlett also mentioned that students are usually assaulted during their freshman or sophomore year.

Catlett said the Center has received almost 200 reports of sexual assault over the last two years and most of those victims are so traumatized that they don’t even want to report it from the “fear of being re-victimized.”

Another source of help for those who have been sexually assaulted is the Women’s Resource Center in Norman, which helps men, women and children. The Women’s Resource Center helps victims by advocating for them in court and going with them to the police amongst other things.

Courtney Foster, Coordinator of Sexual Violence Services says she works at the Women’s Resource Center in Norman, because of her passion for helping women. Foster believes the driving force behind rape culture is society’s failure to teach young people respect.

“We need to start teaching girls and boys consent and boundaries,” Foster said “We’ve told women to find gentler ways to say ‘no.’”

Most sexual assaults victims blame themselves for their attack, Foster said. They feel that, “you do this wrong thing so that’s what you deserve” she said.

Like Catlett, Foster says most victims don’t report their assault, usually because the perpetrator is someone they know. About 85 to 90 percent of sexual assaults committed are someone close to the victim like her best friend, or significant other.

Catlett says that there have been fewer calls to the Center this year and that may be the result of either, less cases or more victims scared to silence.

Even though most campuses are trying to fix sexual assaults, there is still a very long way to go but Foster thinks there might be a solution:

“Two ways: One, don’t ask victim what they did wrong. Don’t ask what they’re wearing or doing. Two, support and believe and them.”

Nutritional Options on the University of Oklahoma Campus

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By Skyla Parker


The transition to college can be a stressful time for some, especially when it comes to food. Cafeteria food will probably not compare to a home cooked meal, but the OU Food Services offers programs that keep the students needs in mind.

Frank Henry, Director of Food Services, was instrumental in implementing the Fitter Foods Initiative, a program that offers food portions of five hundred calories or less with less sodium and fat, which are available at select OU restaurants.

Along with accommodating students who choose to eat healthier, the OU Food Services staff also provides vegan, Halal and gluten free meal options.

According to Henry, it is important to provide meals for students with religious based dietary needs, like Halal. He says it is all about respecting the students religious and health based dietary needs.

“To not offer that group something they can eat everyday except fruit, that’s just wrong.” Henry said.

The constant changing health guidelines keep food service workers on their feet, however, Henry and his staff are willing to go the extra mile to accommodate students by having a dietician work with them to ensure a high nutritional value of campus food.

OU Food Services’ Dietician Fran Olsen Sharp, the first in over ten years, works alongside Henry to ensure students get their optimal dietary needs. Sharp also offers individual counseling to help students find a diet plan that works for them.

“A strict vegan in this country has a little bit more trouble meeting their (vitamin) B12 count because our food source is too clean. So, if I’ve got someone who is a vegan that’s something I’m gonna work with them on,” said Sharp on the pros and cons of being vegan.

Another healthy eating option, outside of OU Food Services, is ‘Full Plate Living.’ A service offered through the Fitness and Recreation Department, a program that is more focused on weight loss and teaching a healthy lifestyle.

Heather Kirkes, OU’s Fitness and Outreach Coordinator, suggests that ‘Full Plate Living’ classes have a long lasting effect on participants.

“There have been many participants that report feeling and looking better after the eight weeks and continuing to have a healthy relationship with food since then,” Kirkes said.

According to Henry, there is a scarce amount of advertising on campus, which is done with the intention on providing awareness about the nutritious options offered on campus, you just have to ask or be looking for them.


If you want more information on OU Food Service’s Fitter Food Options, please visit:

OU Hopes to Improve Eating Habits with Healthier Options

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By McKayla Bowens

What you eat largely impacts the way your mind and body function. A simple shift from drinking soda to drinking water can do much more for you than cinch your waistline. But not everyone knows that. That is why OU’s Huston Huffman Fitness Center will be hosting a new ‘healthy eating’ class this summer.

Tomato and watermelon salad. Photo by Melanie Wilderman
Tomato and watermelon salad. Photo by Melanie Wilderman

Heather Kirkes, coordinator at The Houston Huffman Fitness Center said, the goal of the ‘Full Plate Living’ class is to instill education that encourages students to embrace better eating habits.

“What effects I found interesting for the healthy eaters are, more than ever, their mood changes; digestion…. They can fit into their clothes; their sleeping—even the mental status and concentration of the college students at OU [improves],” said Kirkes.

According to Kirkes, healthy nutrition can increase productivity at work, school, or in personal studies, and an education on it can actually help kick-start that healthy lifestyle.


She said the class will focus on “how to have a healthy nutrition by adding diet, super foods and fiber to work on people to develop healthier eating habits.”

Small changes in eating habits may even replace the need for a pick-me-up, like caffeine.

OU Food Services Dietitian, Fran Olsen Sharp, said OU Food Services is considering offering monthly nutrition classes to students.

“We are going to talk about not only, these foods are higher on omega-3s or these foods are higher in fiber, we’re going to look at the nutrients that are lowest in the American diet that puts nutrients at risk,” Sharp said. “We’re going to do more posters, website; we are wanting to work with some apps.”

Olsen Sharp says that the type of food people consume affects the way they think and feel. People should be aware of eating the right amounts and types of carbs, proteins and fats for optimum physical and mental health.

“There is lots of research that indicates there is a huge effect on nutrition on a lot of mental health-related things,” Sharp said.

According to Kirkes, the variety of people who take the ‘Full Plate Living’ class have a positive response within the 8 weeks from taking the class.

“About 5-10 students attend the health classes and we try to encourage and offer suggestions for healthy eating,” she said.

Director of Food Services, Frank Henry, said a variety of health foods are offered at many OU restaurants, concession stands and residence halls.

“We give the students what they want in terms of healthy foods, we put out what we can put out, and we let the students make up their mind,” Henry said.

OU transfer student Rebecca Walters agrees with Henry, expressing the importance of healthy eating.

“I feel like [OU] offer[s] plenty of healthy choices here. I definitely think it’s useful to learn how to cook and eat healthy for when you’re on your own,” Walters said.

For more information about the Full Plate Living class click here. 

Dancers try to strike healthy balance

in 2016 Archive/Main Photo by

By Diana Lara

Emily Lower, an OU modern dance performance graduate from Tulsa, poses in a portrait. --Photo courtesy of Emily Lower
Emily Lower, an OU modern dance performance graduate from Tulsa, poses in a portrait. Photo courtesy Emily Lower



→ Many young adults struggle with healthy body images due to today’s society. These young adults focus more on the exterior, agonizing over what to eat and which photo will make a good profile picture without realizing that all can come at the expense of what is really important: health.

This struggle is all the more real for college students who study dance and performance arts. Their bodies are presented constantly on stage and are spotlighted throughout shows. They view their bodies daily in the mirror while rehearsing, and the intensity leads some dancers to go to exaggerated lengths to achieve the “perfect” figure.

A 2013 study by the National Institute of Health found that dancers need proper nutrition, not just for energy intake. The study further suggests dancers seek dietary advice, since the pressure to maintain a low body weight and low body fat levels are high.

At elite dance programs like OU’s, students exercise for long hours each day to maintain their fitness and endurance, but even those students admit to challenges, including indulging in fast food and sweets on occasion.

“My health habits are pretty good, I try to eat a lot of food…. because we do need protein to grow muscles in order to lift the female dancers with ease,” said Manny Valdes, a modern dance performance senior from Dallas.

“We try to keep a balance and it has to come easy in order to be ready for our performances. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s a risk and it shows.”

Across gender lines, modern dance performance graduate Emily Lower’s view on her health doesn’t differ much from Valdes’.

“I think I’ve gone in both phases throughout my life,” she said. “There are times where I’m in a good place, like I do Crossfit and dance. And then there’s other times when it gets overwhelming trying to live that lifestyle. I like to have fun and eat normal food that isn’t so good, but I go back to doing what I’ve done before.

“It’s important to keep your instrument, your body, as tuned as possible,” Lower said.

Still, they and other dancers acknowledge the expectation to have a certain shape and size. Pursuing these expectations can make a dancer self-conscious.

“My body has definitely been an issue in my life,” Lower said. “I’m not sure if it’s because of dance or my individual issues, I’m not a fan of my body at times. I’ve tried diets but never anything too extreme, just watch calories, eat veggies and proteins but those never last especially while I was in college. I don’t really think it was more physical rather than internal.”

With students’ different body types come different perceptions.

“I was really and truly blessed with what is considered the ideal ‘ballet body,’ said Jessica Barber, a former journalism junior from Tulsa who has danced for years and is now transferring to UMKC to be a sophomore in dance performance. “I’m tall and thin with lean muscles, but when I was younger, I looked like a baby giraffe and had very little strength.”

That at times created difficulties.

“I was also growing, which meant I was awkward and tall and didn’t really fit in with the girls my age,” Barber said. “When I was 12, I was already 5-6 and everyone else was barely 5-1. I never had to go on a diet, but I can’t tell you how many of my friends that started counting calories when they were 11 or 12.

“The thing is when you’re that young you don’t really know what your body will be like yet, so you have to accept yourself and your flaws so that you can move forward and work on strengthening.”

Both Lower and Barber agree that most of the time self-consciousness comes from themselves rather than outside perspectives. That’s reinforced by a 2003 study in Psychopathology that examined 113 female dancers from seven non-professional dance schools. Only 2 percent — approximately two dancers in the sample group — were affected by overweight issues.

Jessica Barber, a former OU journalist, now a sophomore in dance performance from Tulsa poses in a portrait. “I was really and truly blessed with what is considered the ideal ‘ballet body,’ she says. --Photo by Siandhara Bonnet, courtesy of Jessica Barber
Jessica Barber, a former OU journalist, now a sophomore in dance performance from Tulsa poses in a portrait. “I was really and truly blessed with what is considered the ideal ‘ballet body,’ she says. –Photo by Siandhara Bonnet, courtesy of Jessica Barber

“I think that eating disorders are a real thing among a lot different disciplines,” Valdes said. “We see it more in dance due to the fact that there is so much more added pressure to a dancer. Constantly having to stare at yourself in the mirror, making sure you fit into your costume and being able to move and be lifted as easy as possible.”

“When you let the disorder take over it can be very scary and you really feel like you’re overweight, but in all actuality you’re stick thin,” Valdes continued. “I’ve personally never had this problem, but have seen it and it can definitely consume you. …I think having support and love from fellow dancers, teachers, friends and family help to subside these, but it is a real thing that several people, not only dancers go through.”

Fact check: Healthy tips for dancers to maintain an energy balance

  • Have scheduled workouts that expend calories without resorting to dieting
  • Male dancers need to build body mass so they can lift female dancers with ease
  • Plan meals, especially brain food such as fish, fruits and vegetables, to stay focused
  • Hydrate, but not so much to cause bloating or frequent bathroom breaks

Oklahoma budget cuts undermine mental health care

in 2016 Archive/Main Photo by

By Pooja Krishna

Due to state budget cuts, Oklahomans with mental health problems face a shortage of bed space and health care.

According to a study by the Department of Corrections in 2006, 11,739 out of 24,000 offenders have a mental health problem, and about 67-percent of these people will be re-incarcerated within six months of release if not treated properly.

“What happens is that many of the people that aren’t getting treatment in our state have done something in the community that’s a danger to themselves or others and their only means of getting treatment is through the back of a police car and that’s just wrong,” said Jeff Dismukes, the Public Information Director of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“Because of their illness and their lack of treatment, they become engaged with the criminal justice system and they end up in jail, and there are simply no other treatment options out there,” Dismukes added.

Dismukes says that the lack of funding is the primary reason people are unable to get the health care they need.

“The door to get into treatment services is already very narrow, without appropriate resources and fewer resources every year and a growing demand, that door keeps shrinking,” Dismukes said. “That door is just becoming that much more narrow, and people right now with these illnesses have to be seriously ill to get those services.”

“We have (Griffin Memorial Hospital) here so we’re able to house them, but what ends up happening is if we don’t have room here, we have to transport them to another facility in the state,” Brent Barbour, a lieutenant of Norman Police Department, said, referring to Griffin Memorial Hospital. -Carleta Latham/Flickr Creative Commons
“We have (Griffin Memorial Hospital) here so we’re able to house them, but what ends up happening is if we don’t have room here, we have to transport them to another facility in the state,” Brent Barbour, a lieutenant of Norman Police Department, said, referring to Griffin Memorial Hospital. –Carleta Latham/Flickr Creative Commons

JD Baker, a junior at the University of Oklahoma and the co-founder of ‘OUr Mental Health’, lamented the reduction of mental health services for college students.

“I know some students who have had to go into treatment facilities temporarily to receive treatment in the middle of the school year,” Baker said. “If it went from being one student a year to even three or four students, if those beds are not available, if that treatment facility does not have space for those students, then that can drastically effect their lives, the people around them, as well as community life.”

The mental health department needed $27 million from the state to maintain its services in 2016, but did not receive adequate funding. Because of this, Dismukes said about 73,000 Oklahomans will lose these key health services.

“If the funding and the beds and the resources aren’t keeping up with that growing need, then it just expounds upon itself,” said Brent Barbour, a lieutenant of the Norman Police Department.

Norman police have a strong relationship with the mental health department through Lt. Cary Bryant, who acts as a “liaison” by attending meetings and keeping lines of communication open.

“We really work hand-in-hand with them especially at the hospital,” Barbour said. “Our goals are the same, to keep the people safe and get them a long-term solution.”

Barbour said Norman Police strive to connect people suffering with mental health problems to the best possible treatment and services.

Barbour also said that despite these efforts, those in a mental health crisis are stabilized by the hospital then “pushed on out” to make room for other patients, so they do not receive the long-term health care they need.

“We have the state hospital here so we’re able to house them, but what ends up happening is if we don’t have room here, we have to transport them to another facility in the state,” Barbour said, referring to Griffin Memorial Hospital.

Barbour said many people who do not have a support system, financially or with family, cannot afford long term treatment and have ongoing problems.

“A lot of our people in society have a good family support system, or good insurance and doctors and they are able to seek that. But a lot of the people that we deal with don’t (have these services), their family community is non-existent or is more troublesome than anything,” Barbour said. “Then, those folks have to rely on the state system and us in order to get that help.”

Over 900,000 Oklahomans — nearly 1 in 4 — have a mental illness or addiction issue and are in need of treatment, according to Dismukes.

Less than 40 percent of them are receiving the treatment they need.

“They look at who has the greatest need right now: who is a danger to themselves, who is a danger to others, who has reached that critical point in their illness to where their options are basically court ordered,” Dismukes said. “Only the very, very ill that meet the top criteria, we’ll be able to serve.”

Barbour expanded on that subject.

“The end goal is to get them through the cycle and making sure their immediate needs are met, medically and physically, to make sure they’re safe and then pushing that forward to a long term solution and hopefully getting them some stability,” Barbour said.

Baker believes it is important to change how those who suffer from mental illness view themselves and the broader stigmas of mental illness.

“Every single life matters when it comes to mental illness,” Baker said. “Mental health is another public health issue that we have to address. And if it’s not addressed, then we all are in danger.”

Ditch the desk: Alternatives to sitting at work may increase productivity

in 2016 Archive/NPN by

By Naaman Henager

After years of working at OU, Nicole Kendrick, Assistant Director of Freshman Programs, said she was tired of sitting at a desk all day. The strain on her back, and on her productivity, was getting to her. She looked for a way to make the workday easier on her body. She found it in a standing desk.

In a country where obesity is on the rise and people are spending many hours at their desks, some may need a new way to get work done.

According to WebMD Health news, “a new analysis links prolonged sitting to greater odds of diabetes, heart disease and death.”

At OU and around the City of Norman, several departments organizations are moving to standing desks, exercise balls and other ways to keep their employees more fit during the workday.

For Kendrick, the standing desk eased the strain of the long workday and made her feel like she was getting more done.

“I feel more productive when I am standing,” Kendrick said.

When standing, she says her mind is focused on the work and not her back or shoulder pain.

According to the Kansas Chiropractic Foundation, posture is key to workplace productivity.

“Having good posture means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency,” the KCF website says. “Good posture helps contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system.”

Matt Woods, engagement marketing director at McMahon Marketing in Norman, used a standing desk all through college and says that he misses having a work desk that can help him support a good posture.

“Now that I’ve started my first full-time job out of college and I am sitting at a desk for 48 hours a week, I found myself kind of missing my standing desk,” Woods said.

Woods says that standing desks make people feel more productive, but he advises a mixture of sitting and standing for optimal performance.

“When I am sitting for long periods of time I don’t feel great either, so I’d like to mix it up for a few hours at a time,” he said.

Heather Kirkes, Fitness and Outreach Coordinator at OU Fitness and Recreation, says she has given up her desk altogether. For those who need a desk though, Kirkes advises they use a standing desk for health reasons.

“It keeps them from rounding their shoulders over,” Kirkes said.

In general, fitness experts agree that having a standing desk can give people better posture and can lower the health risks that sitting for eight hours a day can have on a person.

There are other options for staying fit at the workplace besides standing. According to American Fitness Professionals and Associates, sitting on a yoga or stability ball can be good for the core. With a stability ball, people engage their cores, which leads to an increase in strength.

Korey McMahon, CEO of McMahon Marketing in Norman, uses a stability ball instead of a desk chair sometimes.

“I sit on this yoga ball, I love it,” McMahon said. “It’s good for my back. I’ve got good posture.”

He said the switch was weird at first, but was definitely worth it in the end.

“I’m a runner and I’ve got a young child so I don’t have good posture,” he said. “Holding our child, who is almost 2 years old, my chiropractor has advised me to use a yoga ball.”

With new research coming to light on the health benefits of standing desks and yoga balls, it becomes quite clear that in the years to come individuals will have more options when it comes to the way they do work.

“I know it is not for everybody, but I know it has been great for myself,” McMahon said.

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