OKLAHOMA, USA — A new law in Oklahoma looks to address student mental health needs.
The bill requires mental health facilities providing inpatient mental health care services to minors to share with parents the importance of informing their schools about their struggles and care received.
Student parents or guardians enrolling their children will be allowed to disclose whether their child has received inpatient or emergency outpatient mental health services from a mental health facility in the last 24 months.
If so, designated school personnel will meet with the parent and representatives from the mental health facility to decide if any accommodations will be needed. The follow-up can be in person, via phone call, or by video call.
All disclosures and future handling of students' personal health information or other related records must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Bullard, a 15-year teacher, said the new law will help teachers and faculty be better prepared to meet the special needs of students in mental crisis and provide a safe and healthy environment for their success in the classroom.
“I am thrilled to get this much-needed piece of legislation across the finish line,” Bullard said. “For too long, we have thrown kids with mental struggles aside without a plan to provide them with the best educational environment possible to meet their special needs. This is a positive step in the right direction to ensure everyone, from the parents to the teachers to the student, is on the same page and has a plan to help that student in their transition back to the classroom and school.”
Randy Randleman, a clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with students across Oklahoma says public schools often struggle to help children with mental health.
"I know from firsthand experience that our public schools often struggle to help children who have mental health needs, in part because the schools may be completely unaware of any concerns, this bill will give schools more flexibility to work with the student and their parents to meet the student's needs, so they can remain in school. I know Senate Bill 626 will make a significant difference in students' lives."
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