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Ruiz, Beach Mental Health Bill Package Advances

Trenton – In an effort to bolster healthy mental health practices in schools, the Senate Education Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Committee Chairwoman Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator James Beach which would support staff training and programs to address students’ mental health.

“Students will need even greater support as they return to in-person learning after more than a year of tremendous challenges. Currently, all educators are trained in suicide prevention, however, students regularly interact with non-teaching personnel. In the event that a student discloses suicidal ideations or exhibits suicidal tendencies to a staff member, it is imperative that they are prepared,” said Senator Ruiz (D- Essex). “Ensuring all school employees are able to assist students in times of emergency is a key component to this bill package.”

“The goal of this legislation is to make mental health resources accessible to New Jersey school districts and its students. Mental wellness, social and emotional learning are key aspects of a successful learning environment,” said Senator Beach (D- Burlington/Camden). “We are going to be equipping districts with the tools they need to best support their students and encourage healthy mindful practices inside and outside of the classroom setting.”

The Senate Education Committee approved the following bills:

  • S-1025, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would require non-teaching school district personnel to complete a training program on suicide prevention.
  • S-2715, sponsored by Senator Beach, would establish a grant program to assist school districts in partnering with institutions of higher education in training school-based mental health services providers.
  • S-2716, sponsored by Senators Beach and Ruiz, would establish the Student Wellness Grant Program in the New Jersey Department of Education.
  • S-2717, sponsored by Senator Beach, would require the Department of Children and Families to give priority to certain school districts with student mental health counseling centers in awarding grants under the School Based Youth Services Program.