The Senate gave final unanimous approval Monday to Senate Bill 446 to better prepare teachers and other school employees to deal with the mental health needs of Oklahoma students. Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, authored the legislation requiring the State Department of Education and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in consultation with school superintendents and school boards, to develop educator training and resources on student mental health.
“Educators are very concerned with having more training and tools to address the mental health issues of their students, which are becoming more prevalent each year. Typically, only counselors receive this type of training but it’s important that all school employees know how to recognize the signs and help youth who are struggling,” Haste said. “It’s so important to students’ well-being as well as their academic success that they be surrounded by adults they can trust who will listen and help them. These may be the only trustworthy adults in their lives who truly care about them so we must make sure they are properly equipped. This could potentially change the trajectory of their life.”
The training and resources will include information on:
services provided by community-based organizations
the impact trauma can have on a student’s ability to learn
the availability of mental health evaluation and treatment by telemedicine
evidence-based strategies for prevention of at-risk behaviors
“Providing mental health information and training to teachers and school employees will help address the mental health needs of students by ensuring they receive the support they need while at school,” Dills said. “Our students spend so much of their day at school, and it’s important that they’re surrounded by teachers, coaches and administrators who can listen to what they’re going through and help them as much as possible.”
SB 446 will next be considered by the Governor.