Legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado to help address the need for more mental health professionals in school districts cleared the Senate Education Committee today.
Mental health services in New Jersey schools would be enhanced under legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado and advanced by the Senate Education Committee. (Pixabay)
Two Corrado bills designed to help provide vital mental health help for stressed and confused school-aged children advanced. The legislation has bipartisan support.
“Access to well-trained mental health professionals in the school environment can help identify and alleviate issues before students are overwhelmed,” said Corrado (R-40). “Early intervention can be critical, especially for young students whose troubles can be easily obscured within the halls of a busy, stressful school.
“The emotional and psychological stress of the COVID pandemic has effected the lives of New Jersey residents of all ages, but school-age children are especially at risk. Students who are quarantined away from friends and blocked from school and social activities can become isolated and depressed,” continued Corrado.
The first bill, S-2715, establishes a grant program to assist school districts in the training of school-based mental health service providers. Districts that receive grants would be required to use the funds to create and grow programs to train graduate students to become mental health service providers in schools.
“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. We must had adequate help in place when it is needed and it and it can do the most good.”
A second bill, S-2717, would prioritize school districts with mental health counseling centers for grants from the School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP).
Operated under the Department of Children and Families, the SBYSP is located within host schools and coordinates with existing resources in the community.
SBYSP provides services including mental health counseling, employment counseling, substance abuse education/prevention, preventive health awareness including pregnancy prevention, primary medical linkages, learning support, healthy youth development, recreation, and information/referral.
“This bill will encourage school districts to operate or host a center offering mental health counseling services to students,” Corrado said. “The SBYSP grants would prioritize schools that currently have counseling centers, or have plans to add one. This is part of a broad effort to ensure mental health assistance for every student that needs it.”
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