In a fall 2021 questionnaire conducted by our office, we found over 70 percent of New Jersey students rated their stress and anxiety levels as higher or much higher than what they experienced in 2020. This is consistent with national trends and reports that have demonstrated worsening student mental health across the board. As a result, while most institutions of higher education previously offered some level of mental health support to students, a rapidly growing need for these services has strained the capacity of many campuses to continue providing care to every student in need.
In response, the State of New Jersey stepped in and our office established two key pathways to strengthen the mental health supports that institutions across the state are able to provide their students.
These initiatives are made possible by Governor Murphy's $55 million investment in Fiscal Year 2023 to address the youth mental health crisis throughout New Jersey. Of the $26 million in funding allocated to OSHE from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, $10 million is dedicated to providing free tele-mental health and wellness supports to students, which is complemented by the $16 million in grant funding to institutions for the creation of community provider partnerships and professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to build multicultural competency and increase engagement with their diverse student populations.
This is part of Governor Murphy's larger strategy to strengthen youth mental health as the 2022-2023 Chair of the National Governor's Association (NGA), which culminated in the release of the "Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor's Playbook."