Legislation To Fight Mental Disorders In Kids And Teens Signed Into Law

Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation aiming to combat the uptick in mental health disorders and suicide rates among children and teenagers into law on Tuesday. Bill A3526/S1662, sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, requires the New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council (the Council) to develop a report regarding suicide prevention instruction in schools.

Under the legislation, the report will, among other actions, identify and review the effectiveness of suicide prevention instructions that are currently provided to public school teachers and students; establish how public schools can recognize students who may be at risk of suicide or self-injury; and make recommendations on ways to improve suicide prevention instruction. Additionally, the report will identify opportunities to enhance mental health treatment in public schools.

The bill authorizes the Council to consult with the New Jersey departments of Health, Education, and Children and Families in preparing the report. It also requires the Council to prepare a survey to collect data from local education agencies, approved private schools for students with disabilities, and charter and renaissance school projects in the 2023-2024 school year that will then be provided to the Department of Education.

“Recent, devastating suicides by young people in New Jersey highlight just how much work we have left to do to address the mental health crisis in this state,” said Assemblywoman Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “There are clear gaps in our knowledge on this subject, and nowhere is this more obvious than in our schools. It is critical that we work to understand how this topic is currently addressed in school districts across the state so that we can better evaluate effective methodologies for identification, education, and prevention. This bill will help to give us the information we need to take further action to help our young people grow into happy and healthy adults.”

According to the National Institute of Health, over 20 percent of children ages three to 17 have either a mental or a behavioral disorder. Additionally, between 2008 and 2020, suicide rates for children ages 12 to 17 have increased by 16 percent.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Better late than never.

    In a letter to Murphy and other legislators at the beginning of the Covid Pandemic, ahead of any release of releif funds, I asked them to take mental health issues seriously, and asked that they address it head on. They ignored it. They wronged the people, and now we are dealing with far worse mental health issues than ever before. It’s at crisis proportions, and we should be addressing it far more than just this.

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