In recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the Monmouth County Assemblywomen are highlighting their focus on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services.
"Amidst increased pressures from social media, cyberbullying, an opioid drug epidemic and the stress and isolation caused by the pandemic, our children's mental health is in a full-scale public health crisis," said Eulner. "We must ensure school districts and counselors have the necessary funding to screen their students for warning signs, help identify disorders early, and decrease suicide attempts and substance abuse rates amongst children and teenagers."
According to The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, one in five teenagers lives with multiple mental health issues, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death. In addition, emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts have risen 50 percent, with members of the LGBTQ community and young Hispanic women seeing the most significant increase.
Added Eulner, "That is why we have sponsored and cosponsored several bills to fight for mental health resources. A-363 requires the Department of Human Services to study the causes of youth suicide. A-1682 would establish the New Jersey Suicide Prevention Advisory Council in the Department of Human Services."
Other bills cosponsored by the Assemblywomen would require annual suicide prevention training for mental health practitioners and require higher education institutions to implement suicide prevention programs and raise awareness of mental health services. They are A-1144 and A-1176, respectively.
"Despite rising numbers of children diagnosed with anxiety and depression, the Governor and politicians in lockstep like Vin Gopal continue to cut funding year after year for those districts that need them the most. These cuts mean fewer school mental health programs and fewer front-line mental health practitioners in school amidst increased daily demand for services and support. Asbury Park alone is losing a school psychologist, a social worker, a guidance counselor, and a speech-language specialist," said Piperno.
In May, the assemblywomen introduced Assembly Bill 3750, the "Improved Suicide Prevention, Response, and Treatment Act." It provides that mental health facilities, treatment centers, and crisis hotlines operating in the State must have specially trained suicide prevention counselors to assess patients and provide counseling to patients deemed at risk of suicide. The bill would also require health insurance carriers to cover the costs associated with the suicide prevention assessments performed and counseling services provided.
Added Piperno, "No one should be facing a mental health issue without access to potentially lifesaving resources they need. Our residents deserve more funding for programming and professionals, not less. We will continue fighting for these bills and the people they would help save."
If you, a family member, or a friend requires access to mental health or counseling services, please visit the State of New Jersey's Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Or please call the 11th Legislative District Assembly office at (732) 268-8968 or email District11Help@njleg.org.