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When it comes to mental health challenges, one lawmaker wants to make it easier for Oklahomans to receive quality care. Oklahoma state Senator Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, has filed Senate Bill 1314. It would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to provide Medicaid reimbursement for healthcare providers who screen patients for a history of trauma.

Drawing on research that examines the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) on mental and physical health, Sen. Garvin wants to support Oklahoma residents. “I believe unaddressed mental health needs lead to generational welfare, overcrowding in our prisons, failing students in our schools, and increases the number of kids in foster care.”

“We have to start addressing these issues if we want to improve outcomes in this state, produce more successful and independent adults, and keep Oklahoma families together,” Sen. Garvin added.

mental health trauma adverse childhood experiences
Oklahoma state Senator Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan)  (
Oklahoma state Senator Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan)  (

Bill encourages mental health treatment

In addition to Medicaid reimbursement, Senate Bill 1314 would also encourage providers to make referrals for mental wellness treatment, among other preventative healthcare measures, for those who receive trauma screening. 

According to Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) CEO and former state Rep. Joe Dorman, “Oklahomans who are negatively impacted by high ACEs scores are often underserved because we don’t know they are suffering… Senator Garvin jumped on the opportunity to increase screening and data collection so that we have a better understanding of how to help serve some of the most vulnerable people in Oklahoma.” 

According to America’s Health Rankings, children ages 0-17 in Oklahoma face more trauma when compared to the United States as a whole. Oklahoma’s youth face higher rates of substance abuse, parent or guardian death, as well as community violence. 

 Senate Bill 1314 will be up for discussion when the Oklahoma legislative session begins next month. If it passes, SB 1314 will go into effect in July. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...