In response to upcoming funding cuts for mental health services in the proposed FY18 New Jersey State Budget, nine New Jersey non-profit community mental health providers have announced the formation of the New Jersey Community Mental Health Coalition (NJCMHC). The NJCMHC will 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, which would result in the devastating consequence of tens of the thousands New Jerseyans losing access to proper mental health services and care.
New Jersey’s non-profit community mental health organizations currently provide a full spectrum of mental healthcare services to the underinsured and uninsured in the state. Their facilities provide this high level of care to serve patients across the state from Sussex down to Cape May County and everywhere in between. These community-based organizations provide a full continuum of care ensuring that tens of thousands in the state suffering from mental illness can lead successful and productive lives. These organizations provide a safety net for New Jersey’s mentally ill and prevent the most vulnerable members of our society from falling through the cracks and landing in homeless shelters, jails and hospitals or worse.
Under the Governor’s new funding formula as proposed in the FY18 budget, 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 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 state draining resources both financially and physically.
“This ill-advised change to the way mental health services have been funded for decades will rip a massive hole in the social safety net for the disabled, the poor and the working poor throughout New Jersey,” said James Cooney, Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Mental Health Services, Inc., and NJCMHC member. “Families would be forced to watch their sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers turn to crime, substance abuse, or even, suicide as they try to navigate a world without proper mental health treatment and care. Communities will see their police, first responders, and schools crushed under the weight of providing services to those previously under the care of a community non-profit mental health organizations. This budget proposal will doom thousands to an uncertain fate and force the state to become accustomed to a new, disastrous reality where many needing mental health care are unable to receive it.”
Mental illness affects everyone, far surpassing rates of cancer and other chronic, life threatening diseases. It invades the lives of 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children. In Ocean County alone, Ocean Mental Health Services, Inc. provides care to 9,000 individuals suffering from mental illness and estimates that thousands of Ocean County residents will be left without a viable option for mental health care under the proposed funding cuts.
“The system that we have in place now is working for the state, for our communities, and for families and individuals. If passed, the proposed funding cuts doom our mental health system to failure, leaving our citizens without access to the care they need, with the unacceptable consequence of putting them and our communities at risk,” added Cooney.
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.