The New Jersey Department of Education recently launched a website of strategies and resources to support local educational agencies in using remaining Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief funds to strengthen youth mental health, according to an advisory.

The strategies are organized around the four pillars from the Strengthening Youth Mental Health playbook developed by Gov. Phil Murphy. Those pillars are:

  • Addressing prevention and building resilience.
  • Increasing awareness and reducing stigma.
  • Ensuring access and affordability of quality treatment and care.
  • Training and supporting caregivers and educators.

About 50% of middle school students have reported instances spanning several days or more wherein they grappled with pervasive emotions of sadness, emptiness, or depression, and approximately 42% of high school students have experienced profound sadness or hopelessness daily, lasting for a minimum of two weeks, according to the 2021 New Jersey Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

LEAs still have the opportunity to utilize remaining Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief funds by way of ESSER II and American Rescue Plan ESSER to support youth mental health. District and school leaders and school business administrators are encouraged to review the potential funding opportunities identified on the Strengthen and Fund Youth Mental Health Services website.

As a reminder, the project period for ESSER II funds ends on Sept. 30, 2023, and the project period for ARP ESSER funds ends on Sept. 3, 2024.

Questions regarding utilizing Federal relief funds may be directed to the NJDOE via email.