6 Bills Mental Healthcare Professionals Should Be Watching in 2022

Legislation,

As the Oklahoma legislative session draws nearer, state lawmakers have recently been introducing new bills to the legislature. Many of these proposals may have implications for mental health treatment in Oklahoma. In fact, here are 6 bills mental healthcare professionals should be watching in 2022.

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House Bill 3240
HB 3240, introduced by Representative Tom Gann, would prohibit Oklahoma healthcare professionals from providing “gender transition procedures” to those under the age of 18. Though mental health care is not specifically mentioned in the bill, the language of HB 3240 prohibits procedures and medical care that “may involve social, legal, or physical changes” to gender administered by any healthcare professional in the state. Research suggests that gender-affirming medical care significantly improves the mental health and wellbeing of transgender individuals, as well as reduces the risk of suicide.

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House Bill 2973

HB 2973, introduced by Representative Jim Olson, would outlaw any prohibition of sexual orientation change interventions. Though there is no evidence that conversion therapy is effective and research suggests that those who have been subjected to the pseudoscientific treatment experience an increased risk of suicide, the bill would protect the practice from being banned in Oklahoma as it has been in multiple other states

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Senate Bill 1442

SB 1442, introduced by Senator Shane Jett, would prohibit social and emotional learning in Oklahoma classrooms. According to the bill, social and emotional learning encompasses self-awareness, relationship skills, emotions, self-regulation, and social skills, among other related topics and skills. If passed, it is unclear how this bill would affect the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s recent push to incorporate training for Oklahoma educators on mitigating the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences in the classroom.

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House Bills 3414 and 3174

HBs 3174 and 3414, introduced by Representatives Logan Phillips and Daniel Pae respectively, would reduce the criminal liability for some psilocybin possession in Oklahoma, as well as open the door for universities to research the effects of the hallucinogen on mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress. Oklahoma would not be the first state to allow for the scientific inquiry of “magic mushrooms,” as Oregon decriminalized the psilocybin in 2020.

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Senate Bill 1548

SB 1548, introduced by Senator Roger Thompson, would change the way drug court programs are established and how referrals to the programs are made. As the law currently stands, district attorneys determine which offenders are admitted into drug court programs. The new bill would allow counties to contract with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to create a drug court program and, though district attorneys would still be able to give their opinion on who should be referred to drug court, judges would ultimately be the decision makers for whom attends the program.

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House Bill 3008

HB 3008, introduced by Representative Ken Luttrell, would legalize in-person sports betting in Oklahoma. As of 2019, Oklahoma was the state with the fifth-highest rate of gambling addiction. With 2-3% of Oklahoma’s population experiencing problematic gambling, addictions counselors may be paying close attention to this bill.

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