On Monday, November 4, Fort Lee High School in collaboration with the Bergen County Division on Mental Health, formally announced their partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation’s teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program. Fort Lee High School was chosen as one of 35 schools nationwide to participate in this groundbreaking program.
In response to this news, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) released the following statement:
“This news comes at a crucial time, as New Jersey experienced 100 documented suicides amongst 15- to 24-year olds in 2017 alone, the highest number and rate since the 1990s. As teens in New Jersey and across the nation report alarming rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, it is evident that now, more than ever, we must do more.
“Governor Murphy took an important step in August by signing legislation into law that requires schools to teach their students about mental health. Now, Fort Lee High School has taken this one step further.
“Teen Mental Health First Aid is training for students in grades 10-12. This training will educate students about mental illnesses and how they can identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem amongst their peers. Much like CPR, tMHFA provides participants with a 5-step action plan to help their friends through a problem or crisis.
“As a legislator representing Fort Lee in the 37th Legislative District, I am proud to see that Fort Lee is leading the state and the nation in reducing stigma and improving how we support students who are struggling with their mental health.
“There is no question that Fort Lee High School and the Bergen County Division on Mental Health are blazing a trail and pushing the envelope. It is my hope that one day soon tMHFA will be available in every school in New Jersey and across the country.
“I believe that this program will change lives. What Fort Lee students are doing today will help save lives tomorrow; they are living examples of the campaign’s slogan ‘Be the Difference.’”