A typo in the original article has been corrected.

OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – As depression among children and teens skyrocketed during the pandemic, a new law has passed the Oklahoma legislature. It allows the parents of a student who has received inpatient or emergency outpatient mental health services during the previous 24 months, as well as officials from the mental health facility, to meet with school officials, on how to better accommodate the student while at school.

Senate Bill 626 will allow school personnel to meet with parents and the representatives from the treatment center to decide if any extra accommodations are needed to meet the needs of a student during or after a mental crisis. The meetings can happen in person, or via telephone or video call.

The bill goes into law July 1st, so it will be ready for students entering the 2022-2023 school year.

Sen. David Bullard, (R) Durant, a teacher for 15 years, and Rep. Randy Randleman, (R) Eufaula, a psychologist for more than 30 years, authored the measure.

“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.” 

“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,” said Randleman. “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.”

Please seek help if you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘TALK’ to 741741.