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Assembly Panel Approves Lampitt & Benson Bill to Require Colleges to Maintain Mental Health Hotline, Raise Awareness for Services

  (TRENTON) – Every newly-enrolled college student would receive information about mental health services available on campus, including a 24-hour hotline, under a bill approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Monday.

          The measure (A-3007) would require institutions of higher education create and maintain a toll-free hotline to help students seeking counseling for depression, anxiety, stress, or other psychological or emotional tension, trauma, or disorder. In lieu of establishing a hotline, colleges may provide students with the hotline number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or the NJ Hopeline.

          Hotline information would be distributed to students and posted in each dormitory, library, student center and other appropriate areas.

According to statistics provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness and more than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.

          The legislation would take effect in the 2021-2022 school year.

          Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) and Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), released the following joint statement:

          “When a student is in crisis, we want them to know help is available and easily accessible. Most importantly, we want them to know they are not alone.

          “Hotlines can serve as a first step in a student’s road to treatment. Qualified mental health professionals connect youth in crisis to appropriate services and guide them through difficult moments.

          “By requiring colleges to maintain hotlines and raise awareness for mental health services, we will ensure every student has 24/7 access to mental health care at the touch of a button.”