Advocacy E-news August 3, 2020
August 3, 2020
MENENDEZ, BOOKER INTRODUCE MENTAL HEALTH EQUITY ACT OF 2020
U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led a group of Senate colleagues in introducing the Mental Health Equity Act of 2020 to address the issues of suicide and mental health in youth with a focus on those in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. This legislation also provides grant funding over a period of five years to establish inter-professional health care teams at community health centers, rural health clinics, and behavioral health programs that predominantly serve people of color, and to establish various health profession competencies to address racial and ethnic minority mental health disparities.
BILL TO REQUIRE DEPRESSION SCREENING FOR STUDENTS PASSES ASSEMBLY
In an effort to address an alarming rise of teen depression and suicide, Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, M.D., Pamela Lampitt and Carol Murphy have sponsored a bill to mandate annual depression screenings for certain students in public schools. The legislation passed bill (A-970) to require New Jersey public schools to administer annual depression screenings for students in grades 7 through 12, with a valid screening tool that helps identify which students may be dealing with depression.
BILL TO EXPAND CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING FOR POLICE OFFICERS APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL
With the goal to expand Crisis Intervention Training to prepare law enforcement officers to respond to an incident involving someone with mental illness legislation was approved Monday by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The bill (A-4366) would require the Police Training Commission (PTC) to contract with the New Jersey Crisis Intervention Team Center of Excellence to assist and support counties in developing and implementing crisis intervention training. The PTC would require every county and municipal police officer to complete training.
THE DEMAND FOR MENTAL HEALTHCARE HAS SKYROCKETED
In addition to claiming the lives of over 100,000 Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for an unprecedented uptick in mental health issues in our state, across our country and around the world. The Assembly Health Committee listened to nearly three hours of testimony from behavioral healthcare professionals who detailed the cataclysmic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental health of frontline healthcare workers. To that end, the Legislature has the power to act now to help meet the drastic increase in the demand for mental health services.
NJ HUMAN SERVICES ANNOUNCES $38.5 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL FOOD ASSISTANCE
Many New Jerseyans who receive food assistance through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) will receive additional benefits in August to help address critical food needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The supplemental benefits will be directly loaded to NJ SNAP recipients’ Families First EBT cards as part of their regular monthly payment. The benefit card is accepted in most food retail stores and farmer’s markets. Families can now also use their cards at select online grocery retailers to help maintain social distancing during the pandemic.
15K EVICTIONS HAVE BEEN FILED DESPITE MURPHY MORATORIUM. WHAT’S NEXT?
More than 15,000 renters are facing evictions in New Jersey, despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order referred to as the “eviction moratorium” preventing people from getting locked out even if they don’t pay rent. And while these filings are legally allowed, advocates fear the financial implications could lead to a housing crisis that’s forecast to be brutal even though through at least early November, or until 60 days after the state’s public health emergency expires tenants can stay in their home even if they can’t pay rent.