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Governor Phil Murphy

Governor Murphy Delivers Remarks at National Governors Association Convening


Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Once again, thank you, Bill.  

And I must also once express my gratitude to Governor Spencer and First Lady Abby Cox for welcoming us to your beautiful state and being such wonderful partners in this important work. 

Tammy and I both appreciate your support, your hospitality, and your friendship. 

As Bill mentioned, we’re planning three more of these roundtables over the next few months to cover each of the four pillars of the Chair’s Initiative. 

Before our first panel this morning, I’d like to give a brief recap of these four pillars as I outlined them when we met in Maine back in July.

The first pillar is prevention and resilience building, with a clear focus on creating welcoming, supportive, and healthy environments for children to grow into productive and healthy adults – environments that seamlessly weave age-appropriate mental and behavioral health tools into the fabric of children’s lives through in their schools, homes, and communities.

Second is reducing the stigma associated with mental health challenges by normalizing making it so young people not only know how to access help but know how to ask for it. And, when they do, we will back them up with access through education, helplines, and necessary state services centered on empathy.

The third pillar is focused on building a robust system of supports by leveraging innovative funding opportunities that can supplement and amplify our own existing in-state investments and programs. This requires us to take on the challenges to access – whether it be expense or distance – which have been made worse by a depleted national mental health workforce. 

And, finally, pillar number four – providing parents, caregivers, and educators the training and support they need. We know that when adults suffer mental health challenges, so do the children in their care. Adults who are empowered in managing their own mental health are better equipped to identify negative signs and to provide positive supports for youth.

Of course, there is a lot of overlap among these priorities. And taking a holistic approach means finding solutions that take the whole spectrum of needs into account.  

So, as we focus on Pillar Number One – resilience – in this morning’s panel, our discussion will likely touch on the other three, as well.   

Yesterday, our panelists provided us with invaluable firsthand accounts from the front lines of the mental health crisis. Their words focused on what’s working and what’s not. 

As a natural progression, today’s roundtable discussions will dig into this question ...

How do we draw lessons from those on the frontlines, including young people themselves, and apply them toward solutions? 

To help us begin to formulate an answer, we have an excellent panel to guide the discussion, and I’d like to introduce them now. 

Moderating the conversation is Kana Enomoto (KAH-nah EH-no-MO-toe). Kana is the director of brain health for the McKinsey Health Institute, where she specializes in behavioral health, public health, and delivery-system reform.  

Next is Kristina Benoist (behn-OYST), Associate Director of the I Don't Mind Program – which is a mental health campaign with a mission to inspire open conversations about mental health and to provide resources, education, and encouragement. 

I’m also pleased to welcome Rebecca Dutson, President and CEO of The Children’s Center Utah, which provides life-changing mental and behavioral health services to nearly 2,000 children and their families each year. 

And, finally, Dr. Adriana Galvan. Dr. Galvan is a Professor of Psychology at UCLA whose expertise is in adolescent brain development.  She is the Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory, where her research focuses on characterizing the neural mechanisms underlying adolescent behavior with an eye toward informing policy.

I look forward to hearing from our panel and uncovering opportunities for us as Governors to lead on instilling a prevention mindset into our states and improving systems across the public and private sectors to address mental health challenges from the bottom up.

And, with that, I will turn the forum over to our moderator, Kana Enomoto.