Bullard’s Student Mental Health Bill Moves to House
Beverly Cantrell - March 13, 2022 3:27 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate advanced a measure by Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, to help schools better address the needs of students struggling with mental health issues. Senate Bill 626 would require mental health facilities to inform the parents of minors being discharged from inpatient mental health care services of the importance of disclosing the student’s mental health needs to their local school.
“I’ve worked on this issue for years after my experience in the classroom. We become teachers because we want to help children reach their full potential in life, but that can be difficult when we’re not made aware of their mental health struggles and what they’re going through,” Bullard said. “This will ensure parents are made aware by their child’s doctor that it would be in the best interest of their student if their situation was shared with their school and teachers, so they can provide whatever support needed in the classroom and around school.”
SB 626 would allow a student’s parent or legal guardian, prior to enrollment, to disclose if their child received inpatient or emergency outpatient mental health services from a mental health facility in the previous 24 months. If such a disclosure is made, designated school personnel would meet with the parent and representatives from the mental health facility prior to enrollment to determine if any accommodations are needed. This meeting could be held in person or via teleconference or videoconference. It directs the required disclosure and subsequent handling of personal health information and related student records to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
“We’re trying to get ahead of a sensitive situation where in the past we just reacted because we were unprepared, often times at the detriment of the student’s mental health,” Bullard said. “Schools should be a safe place for kids and their relationships with educators protected. We need to empower our teachers and other school staff with what could be life-saving information, or at the least information that could prevent a mental breakdown or further harm to a student’s well-being.” The bill will next be considered in the House where Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, will carry the measure.
For more information, contact: Sen. Bullard: (405) 521-5586 or [email protected]