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MAPLE SHADE — Two new initiatives aimed at helping improve youth mental health response were announced by Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday.

Mental Health First Aid training will be provided to school personnel in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools statewide through the Department of Human Services and the National Council of Behavioral Health.

The Department of Education will lead a statewide youth mental health working group to develop resources and best practices for school and mental health provider connections to support student needs.

“Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, but as a society we are often unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of mental illness,” Murphy said at a news conference at Maple Shade High School.

“With improved training for school and higher education personnel and better opportunities for school and provider connections, we can better address and support the mental health needs of our young people.”

The initiatives are in response to the high number of Americans facing mental illness, the administration said. National data show suicide was the second-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds.

The governor announced $6 million in funding for the training program, supported by $100 million in opioid funding through the fiscal 2020 budget.

“As multiple data sources clearly show, our youth are struggling,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, of Brigantine, founder of the Kennedy Forum and co-chairman of Mental Health for US.

“By prioritizing mental health trainings and initiatives in schools and institutions of higher education, Gov. Murphy is tackling this issue head on and showing the nation that in New Jersey, mental health is essential health.

“These efforts will save lives.”

Contact: 609-272-7251

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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