Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday that New Jersey will give $16 million in grants to colleges and other higher education institutions to help them meet the mental health needs of their students. Experts say that the coronavirus pandemic has made the mental health crisis in the U.S. even worse.
The money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief funds, and it was included in the state budget that Governor Murphy signed in June. The grants will help pay for mental health programs at public colleges and universities in New Jersey that get money from the state.
They will be run by the office of the state’s Secretary of Higher Education. “With sharp rises in depression, anxiety, and stress among young people in New Jersey and across the country, it is clear that many young people are struggling right now,” Murphy said in a statement.
“As we recover from the pandemic and look to the future, we must do everything we can to help the mental health of young people.” In 2021, the state’s higher education department asked students about their mental and physical health.
The results showed that more than 70% of those asked had higher levels of stress and anxiety than the year before when the pandemic began. Out of the $16 million in grants, $15 million will be given to eligible higher education institutions to help them form partnerships with the community to help meet the mental health needs of their students.
The state wants these institutions to work with local, state, or national groups to use the money to give their students services that aren’t available elsewhere. The other $1 million will be used to help teachers and staff learn how to work with students from different backgrounds.
The deadline for applications is January 31, 2023. State Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges said in a statement, “Students’ mental health may affect their academic progress, such as staying in school and graduating on time.
This is especially true for students from historically underserved backgrounds.” “These grants will help our schools make sure that all students get high-quality mental health care and that no student is turned away when they need it.”
The state’s higher education departments will use another $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to set up a statewide telehealth program that will help higher education students and is expected to start next year. Murphy, a Democrat, became the leader of the National Governors Association in July.
One of his main goals was to improve the mental health of young people. In New Jersey, the governor came up with a plan for the whole state to make mental health a priority in the classroom and find students who need counseling outside of school and send them there.
The original plan was to get rid of School-Based Youth Services, a popular mental health counseling program that has been around for a long time. But after high school graduates, teachers, and state lawmakers complained, Murphy said that the current program will keep running, at least temporarily, while his administration works on the new plan.