Legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado to help fill the need for more mental health professionals in schools was approved today by the Senate and now moves to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
Corrado’s bill, A-4433/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.
“Access to well-trained mental health professionals in the school environment can help identify and alleviate issues before students become 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.
This bill directs the Dept. of Education (DOE) to establish a grant program to assist school districts in training school-based mental health service providers, including selection criteria and priority given to school districts that demonstrate and unmet need for mental health services in the school community, established in consultation with the Dept. of Children and Families.
The competitive grant program established under this bill would encourage local districts to partner with colleges to train school-based mental health services providers.
“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 have adequate help in place when it is needed and it and it can do the most good.”