Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program

Several community tragedies involving youth in New Jersey schools highlighted the need for a community-wide mental health response to these events.

In a joint initiative of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services (NJDMHS), New Jersey Department of Education and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-University Behavioral Health Care, county forums were held to discuss the coordination of resources available to schools in the event of a traumatic loss. Based on the findings of the needs assessment conducted at these forums, NJDMHS identified the need to establish a coalition in each county to address traumatic losses affecting youth. This mechanism for proactive planning was modeled after the Traumatic Loss Coalition of Mercer County, which was funded by the Department of Health.

The Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program was created to establish traumatic loss coalitions in each of New Jersey's counties and to provide ongoing technical assistance to communities in crisis.

The mission of these county-wide coalitions is to develop a coordinated response to traumatic loss events and crises affecting youth and to update those working with youth on mental health
issues including suicide prevention and violence prevention.

These coalitions include representatives from schools, as well as mental health, law enforcement, faith-based and community agencies. Through scheduled meetings, they share resources, concrete plans and procedures. This enables those in crisis to know who to contact and what to do in response to a traumatic event affecting school-aged youth.