Facing a Possible Mental Health Crisis, Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders Passes Resolution Supporting Community Non-Profit Mental Health Providers

In recognition of the vital role of non-profit community mental health providers in meeting the treatment needs of the most vulnerable in Ocean County and the upcoming threat to their required funding in the proposed FY18 New Jersey State Budget, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently passed a resolution affirming their support of these organizations and strongly urging the state to consider delaying or adjusting the implementation of the controversial fee-for-service (FFS) funding model. Ocean County joins the Bergen, Cape May, Morris and Sussex County Boards of Chosen Freeholders in passing resolutions voicing concerns over the State’s transition into FFS.

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ resolution was passed in response to the Governor’s new funding formula as proposed in the FY18 budget where community-based mental health providers will lose significant state funding – funds that have traditionally made it possible for them to fulfill their mission of providing care for mentally ill patients who have nowhere else to turn.

Without adequate funding, community mental health centers will be forced to turn patients away and stop treatment, leading to substantial reductions in care.  Many critical mental health services including psychiatric evaluations, medication management, therapy, and critical follow-up care and monitoring will need to be discontinued. With no access to the mental health care and medication monitoring that patients desperately need, potentially catastrophic results and tragedies including suicide, incarceration and homelessness are almost inevitable for individuals, families and communities across the state. The proposed cuts will lead to an increase in inpatient hospital mental health admissions, homelessness and incarceration rates further straining and potentially crippling hospitals, shelters, and jails throughout the county and state, draining resources both financially and physically.

In Ocean County alone, Community Mental Health Centers provide care to 20,000 individuals suffering from mental illness. The agency estimates that thousands of Ocean County residents will be left without a viable option for mental health care under the proposed funding cuts. Community mental health providers across the state are facing similar cuts and formed the New Jersey Community Mental Health Coalition (NJCMHC) last month in an effort to educate and inform policymakers, patients and the public about the realities of a potential mental health crisis in the state if these proposed draconian funding cuts are passed. Statewide, these cuts would result in the devastating consequence of tens of thousands New Jerseyans losing access to proper mental health services and care.

“For decades, community mental health providers have provided a safety net for the most vulnerable members of society across Ocean County and New Jersey,” said James M. Cooney, Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Mental Health Services, Inc., and NJCMHC member. “We are not opposed to the transition to a FFS funding model; we are supporting a transition process completed correctly, and without the potential to harm our clients.  The Community Mental Health Safety Net Act (S3121, A4827) would accomplish just that.  And allow for a transition that would not let important client services be lost to our communities.  We would like to thank the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders for passing this resolution and for their continued support of Ocean Mental Health Services and the other organizations that make up the mental health safety net in Ocean County. We hope that the state recognizes the burden this transition in its current form will place on, not only our organizations but, every county and municipality throughout the state”

About the NJCMHC

The NJCMHC is a partnership spearheaded by nine non-profit community mental health organizations that have joined together to advocate for continued, comprehensive treatment and care for mentally ill adults and children throughout New Jersey. Its mission is to give a voice to each person suffering from mental illness and ensure that they have continued, uninterrupted access to the proper treatment and long-term, ongoing care that they desperately need. NJCMHC members include: Care Plus NJ, NewBridge Services, Mental Health Association of Essex County, Inc., Vantage Health System, Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare, West Bergen Mental Healthcare, South Jersey Behavioral Health Resources, Ocean Mental Health Services, Inc., and Cape Counseling Services.

The NJCMHC is funded through private donations and other philanthropic efforts. To learn more, visit the NJCMHC on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NewJerseyCommunityMentalHealthCoalition), Twitter (@NJMentalHealth), and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/new-jersey-community-mental-health-coalition).

About Ocean Mental Health Services, Inc.

Since 1959, Ocean Mental Health Services has been providing mental health treatment and services to the residents of Ocean County.   They have grown to an agency of over 370 staff, with four outpatient offices, 220 beds in their residential facilities, a school, several partial day program locations and many outreach and community programs.  Since their first expansion in 1961, their growth has always been in response to the changing needs of their community.

Currently their programs are available to adults, children, and families.  They provide counseling, foster care, group homes, partial day services, a private school for children with emotional and behavioral challenges and they work with family members to ensure an atmosphere of support and understanding. To learn more, visit www.oceanmhs.org.

Ocean Mental Health Services is a proud member of the NJCMHC which advocates for continued, comprehensive treatment and care for mentally ill adults and children throughout New Jersey.