ASSEMBLY JOINT RESOLUTION

No. 183

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 6, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  ANTHONY S. VERRELLI

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Designates month of May of each year as “Children’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


A Joint Resolution permanently designating May as “Children’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month” in New Jersey.

 

Whereas, Mental health is an essential part of a person’s overall health and ability to thrive in their community; and

Whereas, Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning; and

Whereas, Just as ailments of other organs of the body, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life; and

Whereas, Emotional disturbances can affect a child beyond their immediate emotional state, sometimes creating long-term mental health challenges that can affect physical, social, or cognitive skills; and

Whereas, Some characteristics commonly seen in children who have an emotional disturbance include hyperactivity, aggression, self-injurious behavior, social withdrawal, immaturity, and learning difficulties; and

Whereas, Children may be more vulnerable than adults to mental illness, and children with mental illness have a far greater likelihood of being suspended from school, abusing drugs or alcohol, or ending up in the juvenile justice system; and

Whereas, Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic experiences that occur during childhood; and

Whereas, These adverse experiences include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect, household dysfunction, substance use disorder, untreated mental illness or incarceration of a household member, or domestic violence, separation, or divorce involving a family member; and

Whereas, Strong, frequent, or prolonged stress caused by adverse childhood experiences can become toxic stress, impacting the development of a child’s fundamental brain architecture and stress response systems; and

Whereas, Children who undergo multiple ACEs are at a higher risk of suffering from depression, alcohol and substance use disorders, suicidal tendencies, early death, and becoming victims or perpetrators of sexual violence; and

Whereas, Adults who experience multiple ACEs during childhood are also more likely to have a stroke, heart disease, and develop cancer or diabetes, and to abuse or neglect their own children; and

Whereas, Many children with mental health disorders or who experience ACEs do not receive treatment for their illnesses, due to poor understanding of mental illness, toxic stress, stigma, and an insufficient number of pediatric mental health professionals in the United States and New Jersey which reduces access to available treatment options; and

Whereas, Enhanced awareness of mental illness in children can help to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and help improve access to treatment that can help children lead full and productive lives; and

Whereas, Educating the public on the impact of ACEs and toxic stress on a child’s body and brain can bolster the State’s ability to create trauma-responsive strategies to help mitigate the effects of ACEs and make New Jersey a healthier State; and

Whereas, By annually honoring “Children’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month,” the State of New Jersey will recognize that caring for every child’s mental health and mitigating the effects of adverse childhood experiences reinforces the idea that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development; now, therefore,

 

Be It Resolved by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  The month of May of each year is designated as "Children’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month" in the State of New Jersey in order to foster public awareness and understanding of mental health, adverse childhood experiences, and mental illness in children.

 

     2.  The Governor is requested to annually issue a proclamation calling upon public officials and the citizens of this State to observe "Children’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month" with appropriate activities and programs.

 

     3.  This joint resolution shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This joint resolution designates the month of May as “Children’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month” in New Jersey to raise public awareness of mental health, adverse childhood experiences (ACES), and mental illness in children.

     Mental illness can adversely affect children in many ways, including increasing the likelihood of a child being suspended from school, abusing drugs or alcohol, or ending up in the juvenile justice system. 

     ACEs, which are traumatic experiences that occur during childhood, can cause toxic stress, impacting the development of a child’s fundamental brain architecture and stress response systems, and place children who undergo multiple ACEs at a higher risk of suffering from depression, alcohol and substance use disorders, suicidal tendencies, early death, and becoming victims or perpetrators of sexual violence.

     Many children with mental health disorders who undergo multiple ACEs do not receive treatment for their illnesses due to poor understanding of mental illness, toxic stress, stigma, and an insufficient number of pediatric mental health professionals in the United States and New Jersey which reduces of access to available treatment options. 

     The resolution intends to promote awareness of pediatric mental illness and ACEs, in hopes of improving the lives of children who have emotional disturbances, other mental health disorders, or faced trauma and adversity throughout their lives.