The New Jersey School Boards Association reminds members that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Last December, in a rare public advisory, the U.S. surgeon general warned of a mental health crisis among adolescents,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director.  “I believe it is critical that all of us involved in public education work to raise awareness of the mental health struggles of our students and staff and learn what we can do to help them.”

The report of the NJSBA Task Force on Mental Health Services in Public Schools, “Building a Foundation for Hope,” can be found here.  The report details the dimensions of the problem, offers promising practices from school districts in the state and makes 71 recommendations for consideration by local boards.

In recent years, New Jersey has made advances in helping provide mental health services for students.

Last October, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law supported by NJSBA that creates a grant program for districts that institute depression screenings for students in grades 7 to 12.

In April 2021, the governor signed A-3548, which requires private insurers, the State Health Benefit Plan and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program to put into place policies that ensure coverage of mental health screening for depressive disorders for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18.

The New Jersey Department of Education in February published a 223-page School-Based Mental Health Resource Guide, which provides schools with a roadmap for developing, implementing and evaluating mental health supports and services.

Information and resources on Mental Health Awareness Month are also available from The National Alliance on Mental Illness.