Mike’s Story

A Better Life for All

Mike Brose

Executive Director, Mental Health Association of Tulsa

As a high school senior, Mike Brose was forced to find his own housing following the death of his parents. He never expected to become one of the nation’s leading experts on providing housing for those suffering from mental health challenges or homelessness.

Mike became Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Tulsa almost 20 years ago, when much of the public failed to grasp mental health issues.

“In those early days, we discovered that so many homeless people had varying degrees of mental health issues,” he recalls. “When other government and mental health agencies failed to adequately respond, we took the audacious step to provide housing.”

At that time, the Mental Health Association had five employees and offered no housing. Today, the Association has 130 employees and 649 housing units. Their efforts have caught the attention of nonprofit and government agencies across the nation.

The Association provides mental health advocacy, housing and a variety of youth and outreach services, including a Transitional Age Youth Program, which assists young people who have just reached their 18th birthday and find themselves cut loose from the state’s foster care program.

“These young people have high rates of mental illness, homelessness and incarceration,” he notes. “There’s no one else there to take care of them.”

Mike also looks at his organization’s mission from an economic perspective. “Not only do we create jobs and economic activity for the community, more than three-quarters of our employees have benefitted from our services at one time or another. We believe in ‘walking the walk.'”

Not to mention keeping those suffering from mental illness off the streets, in their own homes and employed, lifting the burden from governments and taxpayers.

“When these folks become productive citizens we all win.”