Education Hearing Will Focus on Children’s Mental Health, Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Students

Education Hearing Will Focus on Children’s Mental Health, Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Students


TRENTON – The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Vin Gopal, will meet on Monday, March 14, to receive testimony from a wide range of invited guests regarding child and youth mental health and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental and emotional health of students in New Jersey.


The committee will also engage in discussion with the guests on a variety of subjects ranging from the state’s overall school mental health policies, including in-school supports, suicide prevention, well-being checks, staff training, and funding, as well as questions concerning New Jersey’s scores on the recent state mental health “report card.”


That report shows that while New Jersey is doing much right in regard to addressing the mental health of its students, there is much more the state should and can be doing to ensure that all students have access to treatment and services they might need in order to maintain positive mental and emotional health.


“There is no question that our students have had to undergo extraordinary levels of stress and emotional trauma over these last three school years. Yet we need more than mere anecdotal evidence in order to properly and practically address the mental health and emotional well-being of our young people,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).


“During this hearing, we hope to get some straight answers and perhaps more questions from mental health experts, folks who are on the ground in our schools and also those who have looked closely at the data and done the research to help us gain clarity on best practices and the most effective way forward for our students, parents, teachers and school administrators.”


The meeting of the Senate Education Committee will commence at 11 a.m., Monday, March 14, in Committee Room 6 in the State House Annex, and is open to the public.


A tentative list of those scheduled to participate:

  • Amy Kennedy, The Kennedy Forum
  • Jenn Mancuso, Fair Share Hospitals Collaborative
  • Ramon Solhkhah, Medical Director for the Collaborative Mental Health Care Pilot Program at Hackensack Meridian Hospital
  • Ross Whiting, Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs
  • Jessica Smedley, President of the New Jersey School Counselor Association
  • Megan Sullivan, student
  • Dawn Doherty, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
  • Mary Abrams, New Jersey Association of Mental Health & Addiction Agencies
  • Christine Norbut Beyer, Department of Children and Families Commissioner
  • A representative from Social Emotional Learning Alliance for New Jersey
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