Funding will help meet the growing demand for mental health resources in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Amid an alarming rise in reports of mental health issues among New Jersey residents and a sharp increase in the demand for mental health services, Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) Thursday highlighted more than $30 million in mental health funding he fought to secure in New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey has seen a surge in residents reporting struggles with their mental health. More than 40 percent of New Jersey adults reported they were suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depressions last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and nearly 20 percent were unable to find the counseling or therapy they needed.
“Securing equitable and ready access to mental health resources for our residents is crucial, given recent trends,” Gopal said. “I’m grateful to Governor Murphy and my colleagues in the Legislature for recognizing that and approving requests to fund a host of mental health programs in this year’s budget.”
In response, Senator Gopal successfully pushed to secure $16 million in funding for the state’s newly-created 9-8-8 Mental Health Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotline; $5.62 million for mental health professionals capacity expansion; $1 million for bilingual mental health professional residencies; and $200,000 to expand mental health first aid for veterans.
New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget also includes significant funding for mental health programs aimed at assisting teens and young adults. According to NAMI, more than 60 percent of New Jersey residents between the ages of 12 and 17 who were suffering from depression did not receive any care last year.
Senator Gopal was instrumental in securing $1.2 million for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide; $7 million to support the Child Collaborative Mental Health Care Pilot Program — a resource that allows primary care physicians to work with behavioral health specialists to treat children with complex behavioral health needs; and increased funding for the School Linked Services Program and Early Intervention Support Services programs to help combat that disturbing trend.
“As Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I’m alarmed by the startling rise in mental health struggles among young New Jersey residents,” Gopal said. “The funding in this year’s budget is an important step toward addressing that rise and ensuring all New Jersey’s students and young adults have access to the resources they need.”
Gopal added he intends to continue working to combat New Jersey’s mental health crisis through legislation in the coming months.