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Mental Health is an essential component of overall health.  It includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  It impacts thinking, mood, behavior, stress management, decision-making, how we relate to others, and physical health.  Awareness of and nurturing one’s mental health is important for everyone at every stage of life.

Mental Illness includes many different conditions that vary in degree of severity and meet criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Children's System of Care Public Awareness
Eight Dimensions of Wellness
Protective Factors
Youth Suicide Prevention
New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council
New Jersey Strategy for Youth Suicide Prevention and Annual Suicide Report

Children's System of Care Public Awareness


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Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Wellness Is a Whole-Person, Strength-Based Approach  
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) envisions wellness - not as the absence of disease, illness, and stress - as the presence of a positive purpose in life, satisfying work and play, joyful relationships, a healthy body and living environment, and happiness.

Wellness is multifaceted. There are eight dimensions of wellness, along with basic needs related to each one. The dimensions influence one another and affect a person's overall health and quality of life. The dimensions are:

  1. Emotional:Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
  2. Environmental:Enjoying good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
  3. Financial:Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
  4. Intellectual:Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
  5. Occupational:Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one's work
  6. Physical:Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
  7. Social:Developing a sense of connection and belonging; and having a support system
  8. Spiritual:Expanding one's sense of purpose and meaning in life



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Resilience refers to the process of adapting and overcoming in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.

Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed with intentionality. Building and fostering healthy connections and relationships, practicing lifestyle choices that support physical and mental health, and utilizing mental health professionals are strategies to build resiliency.

Click here for the DCF Office of Resilience.


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Protective Factors

The Protective Factors Framework describes conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society to reduce or eliminate risk while promoting healthy development and the well-being of children and families.  The Protective Factors Framework helps to ensure that children and youth function well at home, in school, at work, and in the community.

The 5 Protective Factors are:

  1. Parental Resilience
  2. Social Connections
  3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  4. Concrete Support in Times of Need
  5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Specific strategies that build protective factors are:

  • Facilitate friendships and mutual support
  • Strengthen parenting
  • Respond to family crises
  • Link families to services and opportunities
  • Value and support parents
  • Facilitate the social and emotional development of children

Observe and respond to early warning signs of child abuse or neglect


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Youth Suicide Prevention

Click here to learn more about available resources, anonymous and confidential reporting of youth suicides, and other work related to youth suicide prevention.

Building your resilience (


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Traumatic Loss Coalition (TLC) is a Rutgers-UBHC program.  The dual mission of the TLC is excellence in suicide prevention and trauma response assistance to schools following unfortunate losses due to suicide, homicide, accident, and illness.  This is accomplished through county, regional, and statewide conferences, training, consultation, onsite traumatic loss response, and technical assistance.  The purpose is to ensure that those working with youth from a variety of disciplines and programs have up-to-date knowledge about mental health issues, suicide prevention, traumatic grief, and resiliency enhancement. 
call/text:  1-888-222-2228.

2NDFLOOR is a confidential and anonymous call/text helpline and message board platform for New Jersey’s youth and young adults.  Youth can contact 2NDFLOOR to discuss anything on their mind, from daily stressors, family and peer relationship difficulties, and mental health, to suicidal thoughts and abuse.  Mental health professionals are available 24/7 and help youth in crisis. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

NJ Hopeline 
1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (654-6735)  

NJ Hotlines and Helplines  

Resources for schools, communities, and families  

DCF CSOC Publications

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New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council
  • Established in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council is comprised of appointed New Jersey citizens and representatives from a number of state departments. The Council examines existing needs and services and makes recommendations for youth suicide reporting, prevention and intervention; advises on the content of informational materials to be made available to persons who report attempted or completed suicides; and advises in the development of regulations required pursuant to N.J.S.A. § 30:9A-25 et seq. For more information related to the council email

  • Council’s Guidance related to the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why
    13 Reasons Why is a series about a young high school girl who dies by suicide. She sends out 13 cassette tapes explaining her reasons. The series was adapted from a book of the same name.  While the show is fictional, the series is extremely graphic and raises significant concerns about the emotional safety of those watching it, especially youth who may have had experience with mental health issues, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.  Michelle Scott, Ph.D., M.S.W., Chair, New Jersey’s Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, shares the following message on behalf of the Council:

We, at New Jersey’s Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, want you to be aware of this series and how to provide some safety for youth around the show’s content and any feelings the show may be bringing up for them.  In order to address these issues with teenagers we need to remember to ask about what they are feeling and seeing and we need to listen.  While there are some very disturbing and graphic scenes and ideas, there are some strengths in the series that provide excellent opportunities to have a conversation about suicide prevention and how to protect yourself and your friends.  We encourage parents to watch the series with their children and have these conversations openly rather than simply criticizing a series that most teens are already watching.  We have provided a handout from the National Association of School Psychologists which provides some excellent guidelines for discussion and response whether you are an educator, mental health professional, parent or youth. Click here to view the guidelines.

We encourage you to share these talking points, as well as the resources listed below, with anyone who has contact with youth including teachers, counselors, parents etc.  We understand that this material can be difficult and if you do not feel comfortable or if you are interested in further education on how to become a partner in youth suicide prevention, how to get additional suicide prevention education or training, or if you are in need of mental health support for yourself or others, we encourage you to reach out to the following resources.

Mental Health Resources:  
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273- TALK
NJ Hopeline  1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (654-6735)
2NDFLOOR Youth Helpline 888-222-2228 (call or text)
Training and Education Resources:  
Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth  (732) 235-2810  









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New Jersey Strategy for Youth Suicide Prevention and Annual Suicide Report
  • To learn about the State's efforts to prevent youth suicides, read the New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention State Plan. DCF is dedicated to continuing to work to prevent youth suicides in New Jersey and this plan helps provide guidance for this important task. 

  • New Jersey Youth Suicide Report 2016 provides annual data related to youth suicide attempts and completions in New Jersey.  DCF's Adolescent Suicide Report.


Keep New Jersey Informed

Help New Jersey target its suicide prevention efforts and real time reporting of suicide attempts and completions. Visit DCF’s website here to learn more about who should report and how to report data related to a youth who has attempted or may have died by suicide.


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