Beginning in the 1960’s with the advent of psychotropic medications, people with mental illnesses left institutions and began to live in their communities. Unfortunately, few services were provided to assist people with successful integration. This resulted in many people feeling trapped in a revolving door – between home and hospital or, for entirely too many people, between the hospital and the streets.
A critical missing ingredient was the failure to understand the barriers that people with mental illnesses face with regard to employment. As a result, two thirds of all people with serious mental illnesses are still unemployed today. Without jobs, and without hope, many people with mental illnesses face isolation. The end result is an increase in the expensive hospitalizations and poverty, which all too often result in homelessness and despair.
There are thousands of people in Tulsa, many who often go unnoticed, living isolated and withdrawn lives. They live alone fearing that they might have to undergo yet another hospitalization. They live in terror that they might fall through the net and become part of the not-so-invisible homeless mentally ill population that lives in shelters and under bridges in downtown Tulsa. These fears are real, especially to family members who wonder what will happen to their loved ones after they are gone.
On January 10, 1994, Crossroads was born to quell these concerns, to fill a need in our community. It was founded by a steering committee of six families of mental health consumers who were frustrated by the gap in employment services and were determined to do something about it. They created Crossroads to provide employment opportunities for all people in Tulsa who have serious mental illnesses. They chose the Clubhouse Model because of its unique ability to help people with mental illness find competitive jobs and successfully integrate into the community.
A tax-exempt corporation was formed, and the Board was expanded to a total of 12 members all of whom were family members or consumers of mental health services. Crossroads’ Board completed a Seed Money Campaign that exceeded its goal of $70,000 in the first year. It also secured contracts with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), and the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS).
Crossroads opened its doors on February 6, 1995, and became a member of the Tulsa Area United Way on January1, 1998.