You might be surprised to learn every newly-enrolled college student in the Garden State must now receive information about mental health services available on their campus, including a 24-hour hotline.

“Our college environments are more stressful than they were back in the '60s, back in the '70s, there’s a lot of pressure put upon them, (students) their parents are spending a lot of money, the students are spending a lot of money on their education," Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, who sponsored the legislation that was signed by the governor last month, said.

She said many students are dealing with higher levels of anxiety and depression.

And then there's the pandemic

“Add COVID on top of that with all of the restrictions for isolation and possibly testing and missing classes, stress unfortunately is an everyday word on our college campuses,” she said. “Ensuring mental health access, behavioral health access is front and center is paramount to the success of our college students.”

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Many college kids have been resultant to seek mental health treatment.

“I believe with COVID now, the stigma has maybe reduced to a level where people realize that COVID has really sent people to the next level, everybody is feeling it," she said.

Get help electronically

She noted one option that is becoming increasingly attractive for college students is telehealth.

“They don’t have to leave their room, they don’t have to go to a doctor’s office, they can get their mental health, their behavioral health support just sitting in their room,” she said.

Lampitt said statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness show 25% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.

Under the new law, colleges are required to either create or maintain a toll-free hotline, or they can refer students to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255.

They may also list any mental health hotline deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Higher Education. In addition, the institution must post the hotline numbers in each dormitory, library, and student center, and any other facility or area on campus that the institution determines to be appropriate.

A separate measure requires institutions of higher learning in New Jersey to print a suicide prevention hotline number on the back of every student’s ID card.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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