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Dollens announces legislation to help young Oklahomans with mental health challenges

Ponca City Now - October 8, 2019 10:18 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) plans to file legislation in the 2020 legislative session that seeks to connect Oklahoma students with needed and available mental health services.

Dollens’ legislation would require Oklahoma’s middle schools and high schools to print the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line on the back of each student’s ID cards.

“This legislation isn’t a cure-all to deal with the mental health issues our students face,” Dollens said. “It is, however, a pragmatic, cost-effective approach that not only makes it easier for young people to connect with trained mental health professionals, but it also reminds them that they are not alone.

“By making this number more prevalent and available to our school-age population, we can spread awareness on mental health issues, break down stigmas and encourage positive communications about mental health.”

Suicide is quickly becoming one of the deadliest killers of our young population. Legislation to promote mental health is needed and welcomed by the mental health services provider community.

“Suicide in young people in Oklahoma is a terrible tragedy,” said Verna Foust, president of the Oklahoma Behavioral Health Association. “In Oklahoma, we lose an average of two young people each week to suicide. Suicide is a complex behavior with many causes, including lack of mental health and substance abuse treatment, bullying, abuse, and feelings of hopelessness and despair.  A bill being introduced this session to require public schools to print the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on student ID cards is a great step to help mitigate our teen suicide rates and prevent loss of our young people in Oklahoma.”

The measure is also supported by the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.

“Mental Health Association Oklahoma is committed to reducing and, ultimately eliminating, death by suicide in our schools,” said Mental Health Association Oklahoma Chief Administrative Officer Wendi Fralick. “Any and all options that support this commitment deserve the attention of our legislators.”

It is also supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Oklahoma.

“With suicide the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24, it is vital to provide readily accessible help to young people in crisis,” said National Alliance on Mental Illness Executive Director James Bost. “The National Alliance on Mental Illness Oklahoma supports the Student ID bill sponsored by State Representative Dollens to print suicide prevention contact numbers on school student ID cards.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255. The number for the Crisis Text Line is 741741.

For more information, contact Rep. Mickey Dollens at (405) 557-7371 or email [email protected]

 

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