Governor Murphy Unveils “Strengthening Youth Mental Health” Initiative as National Governors Association Chairman
Governor Phil Murphy announced his new “Strengthening Youth Mental Health” initiative among governors from across the country. The National Governors Association (NGA) Summer Meeting marked the beginning of Governor Murphy’s term as NGA Chairman as he succeeds Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, with whom the New Jersey governor collaborated on several issues, including supporting infrastructure investment, promoting STEM education, and working to prevent mass shootings.
The unveiling of the Strengthening Youth Mental Health initiative comes amid an escalating youth mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, 37% of high school students reported poor mental health during the pandemic, and 44% reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Additionally, a study conducted by the Born This Way Foundation found that while 90% of youth rate their mental health a priority, only 40% rate their mental health quality as high, nearly 50% report that they do not know where or how to access care or help, and nearly 50% report cost as a key barrier to accessing care.
“It is an honor to stand alongside my colleagues today in the spirit of bipartisanship to discuss the current state and future of our nation,” said Governor Murphy. “There’s no better way to begin my term as NGA Chairman than by targeting an issue that affects us all and by announcing an initiative to which we must all contribute. The youth mental health crisis knows no bounds – neither geographic nor political – and we must similarly transcend state borders and political divisions to protect our children.
First Lady Tammy Murphy Begins Term as Chair of National Governors Association’s Governors’ Spouses’ Program
First Lady Tammy Murphy and Governor Phil Murphy took their positions of leadership in the National Governors Association (NGA). First Lady Murphy will serve as the Association’s Governors’ Spouses’ Program Chair, previously held by Susan Hutchinson, wife of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who will be replaced by Governor Murphy as Chairman of the NGA.
In addition to taking her position as Chair of the Spouses’ Program, First Lady Tammy Murphy also presented her NGA initiative, “Creating a National Model to Tackle the Maternal and Infant Health Crisis,” during a panel discussion with Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead of Merck for Mothers. The initiative will consist of four roundtables over the next year seeking to center women’s voices; improve and utilize maternal and infant health data; expand access and quality of care; and elevate innovative maternal and infant health policies, programs, and technology.
“I am incredibly honored to serve as the NGA’s Governors’ Spouses’ Program Chair and look forward to collaborating across all 50 states to eliminate our country’s maternal and infant health crisis,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “As the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States should be a global model for maternal health care, but the shocking and unacceptable reality is that we are ranked 55th in the world for maternal deaths. Every mother and baby across our nation should begin their life together in health, wellness, and joy. I am eager to work with my fellow Governors’ spouses and partners to make each of our states, and our country as a whole, the safest and most equitable place in the world to deliver and raise a baby.”
The First Lady is no stranger to the cause, which she has championed in New Jersey since the beginning of Governor Murphy’s administration in 2018.
In 2019, First Lady Tammy Murphy launched Nurture NJ, a statewide program committed to reducing maternal and infant mortality in New Jersey and ensuring equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities. In January of 2021, she unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, with the goal of reducing New Jersey’s maternal mortality by 50 percent over five years and eliminating racial disparities in birth outcomes. Since its inception, Nurture NJ has seen 43 pieces of maternal and infant health legislation signed by Governor Murphy, developed and implemented groundbreaking programs and policies, hosted annual Black Maternal and Infant Health Leadership Summits, and more – positioning New Jersey as a leader in fighting the maternal and infant health crisis.
Acting Governor Oliver Highlights Housing Affordability Funding in Fiscal Year 2023 Budget
Acting Governor Sheila Y. Oliver held a press conference to highlight the historic investments in housing affordability in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023) budget. The overall FY2023 budget reaffirms the Murphy Administration’s commitment to making New Jersey a stronger, fairer, more affordable state for all.
New Jersey has outpaced other states in making affordable housing a reality for its residents during the Murphy Administration. Since Governor Murphy took office in 2018, the Administration has continually prioritized housing investments and property tax relief, making many New Jersey communities more affordable places to live and raise a family. The FY2023 budget also will lower the effective property tax rate for eligible New Jersey homeowners to 2012 levels through the new ANCHOR (Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters) program.
“This Budget sets forth a truly historic investment for housing in our state. It is going to mean so much to the families who are seeking affordable places to live in the communities where they work, where they were raised, and where they may want to stay with their own families,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “I want to thank my former colleagues in the State Legislature who have worked arm-in-arm with Governor Murphy and I to make these record investments become a reality.”
Human Services Announces July 16th Launch of 988 – New, Easy-to-Remember Suicide & Crisis Line Number
uman Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman announced that New Jerseyans will be able to use the new, three-digit number 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline starting July 16. The 988 number will be available for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide or a mental health or substance use crisis.
988 was designated as the new three-digit dialing code for the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2020 by the Federal Communications Commission. To support 988, the budget signed by Governor Murphy includes nearly $29 million for call line infrastructure and services that some callers may be connected to after they call. The aim of 988 is to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets the country’s growing suicide and mental health related crisis care needs.
“We are excited for the rollout of 988 in NJ and nationwide. Its launch marks an important milestone in timely access to mental health services and we believe 988 can help save lives,” said Commissioner Adelman. “988 is more than just an easy-to-remember number. It will be a direct connection to accessible and compassionate support and resources, available 24/7 to anyone experiencing psychiatric or emotional distress or those worried about a loved one. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis will only need to remember these three numbers to reach trained counselors who can help.”
988 will be available for call, text, or chat on July 16 for those experiencing a mental health-related or suicidal crisis, or those looking to help a loved one through a crisis. The existing Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, will also continue to be available.
Acting AG Platkin Establishes “Reproductive Rights Strike Force” to Protect Access to Abortion Care for New Jerseyans and Residents of Other States
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overruled Roe v. Wade and imperiled the rights of millions of women throughout the country, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced the creation of a Reproductive Rights Strike Force, comprised of officials across the Department of Law & Public Safety. The Strike Force will include representatives from the Division of Law, Division of Criminal Justice, Division of Consumer Affairs, Division on Civil Rights, the New Jersey State Police, and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
The Strike Force will initiate civil and criminal enforcement actions and develop other strategic initiatives to protect access to reproductive health care and abortion care for New Jersey residents and residents of other states who travel to New Jersey to access such care. The Strike Force will work with the Office of the Attorney General to coordinate enforcement actions across the entire Department of Law & Public Safety.
“A woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body is a fundamental measure of freedom in a society and it must be protected if we are to uphold the founding principles that all Americans are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver. “I commend Acting Attorney General Platkin for taking this necessary action to not only protect, but to enforce, the rights and freedoms of women and care providers in New Jersey.”
“The Supreme Court’s right-wing majority opinion in Dobbs is a devastating setback for women’s rights in America and will harm millions throughout the country,” said Acting AG Platkin. “But make no mistake: Abortion remains legal in New Jersey. The Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, signed into law this January by Governor Murphy, protects the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy in New Jersey. And legislation signed into law by Governor Murphy earlier this month provides additional critical protections for individuals who seek to access reproductive health care services in New Jersey. The Strike Force we are creating today will ensure that these laws are enforced to the full extent possible, and that we use every available resource to protect access to abortion care in New Jersey.”