NJ Human Services Awards Contract to Provide Family Support in Psychiatric Screening Services in Burlington and Camden Counties

December 1, 2022

 (TRENTON)Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the Department has awarded a contract to Legacy Treatment Services to provide support and information about mental illness and treatment options for families of individuals who are experiencing a psychiatric crisis and are receiving psychiatric emergency screening services in Burlington and Camden counties.

This initiative will work to provide support as an outreach program, involving meeting families in their homes. It will also work collaboratively with hospital emergency rooms in Camden and Burlington counties when psychiatric screening services have been deployed to connect with an individual.  

“Human Services is committed to supporting the needs of individuals with mental illness, and we understand that family support is integral to meeting these needs,” Commissioner Adelman said. “The Department is pleased to award this contract so that the families of a loved one experiencing a psychiatric crisis have an understanding of what to expect as their loved one interfaces with the acute care system and how to best support and advocate on their loved one’s behalf. We want New Jerseyans in need to know they are not alone and that help is available."

The Department awarded $168,546 to Legacy Treatment Services to implement these services. Services are expected to start this December. 

This initiative will focus on hiring family members who have first-hand experience in supporting their loved ones when they become involved in the acute care system in response to a psychiatric crisis. This is so they can use that experience in supporting others with a loved one in crisis.

It is anticipated that 2,080 will be served over the course of a year.

Services include providing families with greater knowledge of mental illness, treatment options and the behavioral health system; enhancing family members’ skills in helping their loved one manage and reduce symptoms; and enhancing communication and levels of environmental stimulation which have been demonstrated to reduce the number of psychiatric crises and hospitalizations.

These services will be available to parents, spouses, siblings and children of individuals with a serious mental illness. Relatives who are closely involved in and concerned about their loved one’s ability to live successfully in the community or non-relatives who are the individual’s primary caregivers may also use these services.

Services will be available to families regardless of the ability to pay for services or whether or not their family member is enrolled in any agency services.

“We here at Human Services find it important to provide family members with the proper skills in order to support their loved ones experiencing a psychiatric crisis,” said Deputy Commissioner of Health Services Lisa Asare. “Family support extends beyond the household and can be a powerful tool in the psychiatric screening setting. We must do all we can to help New Jerseyans in need, and this contract strengthens these efforts in Burlington and Camden counties.”

Family members of individuals experiencing a psychiatric crisis will receive support through the screening process and beyond.

Staff members will follow up with families after the psychiatric screening process to ensure their needs have been met. 

Providers will ensure that diversity, inclusion, equality, cultural and linguistic competence are a part of the services they offer to those they serve. 

 “The process of going to an emergency room and being assessed by a psychiatric screening service can be stressful not only for the individual experiencing an acute crisis , but their family as well,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie L. Mielke, who leads the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “Through this effort, we not only target the individual in need, but their family as well by improving the functioning and quality of life for families living with a loved one with mental illness.”

Commissioner Adelman reminded residents in need of mental health support to reach out for help through Human Services’ help lines.

Human Services launched the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which is available for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide or a mental health or substance use crisis.

Those with substance use disorder can call 1-844-ReachNJ; a 24-hour-a-day,7 day-a-week help line.

Human Services provides the NJMentalHealthCares helpline at 866-202-HELP (4357). The line can also be reached by texting NJHOPE to 51684.         

 Deaf and hard of hearing individuals fluent in American Sign Language can take advantage of a videophone mental health help line at 973-870-0677.

“It is important for New Jerseyans to know that they have a safe space to talk to someone about their worries and concerns beyond the psychiatric screening setting,” Commissioner Adelman said.

“Please don’t hesitate to call,” Assistant Commissioner Mielke said. “We are here to help.”