By: Olivia Armstrong, Writer / Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and New Jersey is commemorating the occasion by covering expenses for younger community members’ mental health screenings.
On April 30, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation into law that will require private insurers, the State Health Benefit Plan, and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program to put into place policies and procedures that ensure coverage of expenses for mental health screenings for major depressive disorders in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, many New Jerseyans have suffered from mental illnesses and poor overall mental health due to the burden of self-isolating and not being allowed to interact with family members or friends in person.
“The effects and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has put the mental health of our adolescents at risk, and it’s critical now more than ever to keep the well-being of our youth at the forefront of our post COVID-19 recovery,” Gov. Murphy said in a statement. “With today’s bill signing, we are prioritizing the mental health of our children and ensuring that they receive the support they need during this time and beyond.”
In order to promote healing and recovery, mental health disorders need to be diagnosed early and treated with the right tools to manage them. Thanks to this new legislation, adolescents can get potentially life-saving screenings at no cost to themselves or their families.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call the United States’ national mental health crisis hotline 24 hours a day at 1-(800) 273-8255.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.