New Jersey's 40th Legislative District

Senator Kristin Corrado

Senator Kristin Corrado

Gov. Signs Corrado Bills to Help Provide More Mental Health Professionals in Schools

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A pair of legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado to provide mental health help to school students who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic on learning and socialization was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy.

A pair of legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado to provide mental health help to school students who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic on learning and socialization was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy. (Pixabay)

Corrado’s bills encourage districts to provide students with better access to school-based mental health professionals.

“Trained and effective mental health professionals in our schools can help identify and alleviate issues before students become overwhelmed and a crisis develops,” said Corrado (R-40). “Early intervention can be critical, especially for young students whose mental health troubles can be easily obscured within the halls of a busy, stressful school environment.”

The first Corrado bill signed, A-4433/S-2715, establishes a grant program to assist school districts in the training of school-based mental health service providers.

“Due to the Covid pandemic, school-age children are especially at risk for emotional and psychological issues. Students who have been quarantined away from friends and blocked from school and social activities can feel isolated and depressed. They need the help that this measure will provide,” continued Corrado.

Under the new law, the Department of Education (DOE) in consultation with the Department of Children and Families will establish a competitive grant program to help schools select and train mental health providers. The program would encourage local districts to partner with colleges to develop skilled school-based professionals.

The complementary bill, A-4435/S-2717 prioritizes school districts that operate mental health counseling centers for grants from the School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP). Operated under the Department of Children and Families, the SBYSP offices are located within host schools and coordinate with existing resources in the community.

“This will incentivize school districts to operate or host a center offering mental health counseling services to students. The benefits for students can be significant,” said Corrado. “We want to make it easy for children to get the help they need, and an in-school presence can pay dividends.”

SBYSP provides services including mental health counseling, employment counseling, substance abuse education/prevention, preventive health awareness, learning support, healthy youth development, recreation, and information/referral.

Schools that currently have counseling centers or plan to add one would get preference for the SBYSP grants.

“Educational challenges, social tension and other stressors can make the school day a difficult time for many students,” Corrado said. “As many as one of every five school-aged children face mental health obstacles that can interfere with their schooling and personal growth, and less than half are getting the help they need. Now more than ever, we must ensure that our schools have enough skilled professionals capable of identifying students who are in crisis and in need of mental health services. It is imperative that schools have adequate help in place when it is needed and can do the most good.”

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