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New Jersey to Launch 24/7 Telehealth for College Students

Gov. Phil Murphy announced a partnership with the mental health platform Uwill to provide round-the-clock virtual services to students at 44 higher-education institutions, both private and public.

New Jersey mental health
Dave Hernandez/TNS
(TNS) — Most college students in New Jersey will be able to get free mental health help 24/7 under a new partnership Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration announced Tuesday.

Murphy’s office said it’s the first of its kind in the U.S.

The state has partnered with Uwill, a mental health and wellness platform, to offer round-the-clock virtual services to students at 44 higher education institutions — both public and private — in the Garden State.

Uwill was launched in July 2020 to provide teletherapy via video, message, chat, and phone. Its early backers included Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer, and Princeton Review founder John Katzman.

The state has earmarked $10 million in coronavirus relief funds from the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress for the program, which will give students access to a diverse network of licensed mental health providers trained in working with multicultural populations and underrepresented groups. Neither the student nor the school will be charged.

That’s on top of a $16 million the Murphy administration set aside for institutions of higher education in New Jersey to provide mental health services for students. That money was for colleges and universities to work with community partners.

“With the challenges these past few years have presented, young people around New Jersey and the nation are facing a mental health crisis like never before,” Murphy said Tuesday. “It is incumbent upon us to do everything in our power to provide young people with access to the support they need, which is something my Administration will continue to prioritize.”

Officials and experts say the U.S. has been facing a mental health crisis made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A questionnaire conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education found more than 70 percent of New Jersey students rated their stress and anxiety levels as higher or much higher than the previous year, with 40 percent of students indicating they were concerned about their mental health in light of the pandemic.

Murphy announced the partnership the same day U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called for urgent action to minimize the harm of social media on young people’s mental health. He called for a range of actions for policymakers, technology companies, researchers, families, and young people, to create healthier online environments.

Murphy has made it his platform as the current chairman of the National Governors Association to find ways to strengthen youth mental health services.

Republicans and some parents have criticized Murphy for adding to students’ stress by closing schools during the pandemic, though the governor insists the goal was to help curb the disease’s spread and save lives.

The governor’s office said 96 percent of eligible schools are participating in the telehealth program. They include: Atlantic Cape Community College, Bergen County Community College, Bloomfield College, Brookdale Community College, Caldwell University, Camden County College, Centenary University, County College of Morris, Drew University, Essex County College, Farleigh Dickinson University, Felician University, Georgian Court University, Hudson County Community College, Kean University, Mercer County Community College, Middlesex College, Monmouth University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Ocean County College, Passaic County Community College, Princeton University, Ramapo College, Raritan Valley Community College, Rider University, Rowan College at Burlington County, Rowan College of South Jersey, Rowan University, Rutgers University (Camden, Newark, New Brunswick), Saint Elizabeth University, Saint Peter’s University, Salem County Community College, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stockton University, Sussex County Community College, The College of New Jersey, Union College of Union County, New Jersey, Warren County Community College, and William Paterson University of New Jersey.

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