Gov. Murphy announces new initiatives to support youth mental health

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Image by Adeboro Odunlami from Pixabay 
Urban News Staff Reports

Recognizing the widespread and increasing mental health needs of our young people, Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced new initiatives through schools and institutions of higher education to support youth mental health.

The Department of Human Services will work in partnership with the National Council of Behavioral Health  to conduct statewide Mental Health First Aid trainings for school personnel from K-12 and higher education institutions, and the Department of Education will lead a statewide youth mental health working group that will develop resources, including best practices for school and mental health provider connections to support student needs.

The Administration’s new initiatives are a comprehensive response to a challenging reality: one in five Americans have a mental illness and many are reluctant to reach out for help or do not know where to get help. Suicide was the second-leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, and more than one in four students report feeling persistently sad or hopeless.

“Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, but as a society we are often unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of mental illness,” said  Murphy. “With improved training for school and higher education personnel and better opportunities for school and provider connections, we can better address and support the mental health needs of our young people. We are committed to ensuring that our residents have access to the resources they need to thrive and succeed in life.”

The New Jersey Department of Education will launch the statewide Mental Health Working Group. The group, which includes school practitioners, mental health providers, state agencies, and advocates, will develop resources for districts to support the mental health needs of their students that will lead to healthy and successful lives. In addition to providing best practice resources, the working group will boost resource sharing and communication between school communities, mental health providers, state agencies, and stakeholder groups.

“The mental health of the students in our schools can sometimes be an overlooked and neglected component of a child’s growth,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “Our plan is to create a roadmap that school districts and parents can use to provide children with the behavioral and mental health supports they need.”

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