Brief History of Mental Health in Oklahoma

In 1894, a buckboard rolled up to a lone brick building which stood at the east end of what is now Main Street in Norman, Oklahoma. These men had come to renovate the former High Gate College building into the first mental institution in the Territory of Oklahoma. (High Gate was forced to close due to the opening of the new University of Oklahoma.)

The doors to the Oklahoma Sanitarium opened on June 15, 1895, and the first patient, a woman from Woodward County, was admitted the first day. Thus, the Territory of Oklahoma entered the business of mental health care.

Today, some 125 years later, the State of Oklahoma has come a long way in caring for the citizens with behavioral disorders. The Oklahoma Psychiatric Physicians Association, which originally got its start in 1948, is an active medical specialty society in Oklahoma with interests in issues vital to health and science, continuing professional education and the promotion of public wellness of the mind as well as the body.