Dr. Nicole Washington, director of psychiatry at the Family and Children’s Services’ crisis center in Tulsa, discusses the types of low-income clients she sees, the persistent problem of stigma, and why mental illness in poor neighborhoods should matter to all Oklahomans.

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Video by Ilea Shutler. Produced by Clifton Adcock and David Fritze.

“Conversations” is a series of video interviews with Oklahomans about subjects that relate to some of the state’s important issues. The 2016-2017 series is sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation and is made possible by a grant from the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Washington grew up in Baton Rouge and knew from the age of about 4 that she wanted to be a doctor. Her grandfather had been a general practitioner there.

She attended a historically black college, Southern University, earned a degree in biology, then moved to Tulsa to attend Oklahoma State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“It was not until I was a medical student that I decided I wanted to do psychiatry. It was not on my radar,” Washington said. Then, during her psychiatry rotation at Hillcrest Medical Center, “I just fell in love with the severely mentally ill.”

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