House of Representatives

House Passes Legislation to Gain Better Understanding of Student Mental Health Needs

3/3/2020 12:48:00 PM

Contact: State Rep. Mark Vancuren
Phone: (405) 557-7377

The Oklahoma House of Representatives today passed legislation to gather a more complete picture of mental health needs within public schools.

House Bill 2799, authored by Rep. Mark Vancuren (R-Owasso), would expand the use of the Oklahoma Prevention and Needs Assessment (OPNA) Survey to grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 to better understand the mental health needs within public schools.

The OPNA survey is a voluntary survey used by schools to understand student substance use, stress and suicide risks. The survey is administered by schools with parental permission and is anonymous. Currently, less than half of Oklahoma schools administer this survey on a voluntary basis.

“With the expansion of the use of this anonymous student survey to all schools, school administrators and lawmakers will be able to use resources for mental health prevention efforts accordingly,” Vancuren said. “In order to address underlying issues that affect student outcomes, we first need to understand those issues in order to correct them and improve the lives of our students.”

Under House Bill 2799, schools would be required to first administer the survey in the 2021-2022 school year, and biennially after that. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) would maintain the survey and provide assistance to schools when implementing the survey and developing prevention strategies.

Vancuren said Oklahoma is one of 25 states that has a similar survey for students. The bill is carried in the Senate by Sen. John Haste (R-Broken Arrow).

House Bill 2799 passed 86-7 and now proceeds to the Senate for consideration.