Source: NJ Spotlight News
Young adults also play an important role in suicide prevention. Teens will often talk to their friends about suicide before they talk to their parents, Marcello noted.
“It’s so important for there to be young people to tell their stories,” said A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, the founder and chief executive officer of SHE Wins Inc., a Newark-based nonprofit that works with young women in the city and surrounding area who have been affected by violence to prepare them for college, careers and community service. who also testified at the Senate Education Committee hearing last week.
As someone who was affected by violence and feeling alone in her community when she was younger, Murray-Thomas said one of the ways she was able to transcend her loneliness was by not only having her mom and teachers in her life, but also having “peer communities” where she heard other young people tell their stories.
Murray-Thomas added that her organization is looking to get more mental health professionals to work with the girls year-round, not just when there’s a crisis.
“The workforce right now, we’re averaging … about a 30% vacancy rate across the board,” said Mary Abrams, a senior health policy analyst at the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies. That includes psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers and peer residential-care workers, according to Abrams.
In his budget for the coming fiscal year, Gov. Phil Murphy proposed more than $86 million for a state program that will subsidize training and recruitment for mental health, substance-use and developmental-disability service providers. An additional $40 million will also be allocated to mental health providers in the state
“We need to provide some kind of … tuition credit or tax credit, something to help … those students who want to go into this profession,” said Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), the committee’s chair.
“I’d like to look at all the kids that are studying this and want to go into mental health. What can we do to make their tuition easier or maybe even their first-time job here?” Gopal said. “I think that’s one way we might be able to recruit more people into this industry.”
A number of bills have been proposed in the state Legislature aimed at helping mental health professionals stay in the field. They include legislation that would create a student loan redemption program for licensed mental health professionals who provide counseling services in the state and a tuition reimbursement program for advanced practice nurses.
Help for Leslie’s friend was also available to Leslie through The Source, a school-based youth services program housed within Red Bank Regional High School that provides mental health support to students, among many other services. The Source was able to provide Leslie’s friend with the resources they needed, including therapy.
“My friend didn’t even go to Red Bank Regional High School, but The Source was still able to save their life,” Leslie said.