Join Us in #LeadingTheChange by Supporting CarePlus on #GivingTuesday 11/28!
 
We emphasize the importance of the "four pillars" of behavioral health care: primary care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and access to social support. Many of our programs work to coordinate access to essential services that address homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization of individuals with mental illness and addiction.
 
From crisis response to case management, to preventative services and education - we connect the pieces to help lead those we serve through the most complete and effective continuum of care.
 
With your support, we will continue to provide medication, housing, financial support and opportunities for our friends, families and neighbors. Together, we will advocate on a state and federal level for public policy that creates safer and healthier communities. Together, we will generate hope by leading the change with resilience and compassion.
 
Please consider donating to CarePlus for your #GivingTuesday participation this year: www.CarePlusNJ.org/Appeal2017 !
    
Celebrating and Leading the Change with Community Partners

Robert Brown, Digital Voice Network President; Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco; Fair Lawn Mayor John Cosgrove; Deborah Visconi CEO at New Bridge Medical Center CEO; and Joe Masciandaro CEO at CarePlus.
CarePlus was proud to sponsor and participate in "A Taste of Bergen" 2017, to benefit New Bridge Medical Center.

Kristine Pendy, CCO at New Bridge Medical Center; Caitlyn Yerves, Adovcacy Specialist at CarePlus; Lorelle Holway, Associate VP of Hospital and Clinical Services at CarePlus; James Nono, Division Director of Transition and Community Services at CarePlus; and Amie Del Sordo, VP of Hospital and Community Services at CarePlus.
  
We were also very grateful to attend and be honored at the 2017 Reception for Recovery to benefit our community partners at Integrity House. Together, we will continue to generate hope and fight the opioid epidemic in New Jersey.

Integrity House CEO Bob Budsock and CarePlus CEO Joe Masciandaro at the Reception for Recovery.
 
Some of the CarePlus leadership team showing support at the Reception for Recovery.

Congratulations to Amie Del Sordo, CIT-NJ Coordinator of the Year!
 
Our Vice President of Hospital and Community Services has been Leading the Change with her active role as the Bergen County Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator!  
 
For the past three years, CIT-NJ Center of Excellence, The Mental Health Association in Southwestern New Jersey, and some of New Jersey's mental health service have teamed up to host a year end State wide forum. Although, CIT-NJ has grown to fourteen counties, the goals of CIT-NJ and this event have not changed. In a nutshell, the CIT-NJ Program strives to reach every New Jersey County. The Forum brings hundreds of first responders, mental health professionals, consumers, family members and mental health services together for a day-long workshop designed to inform them about various aspects of mental health and to recognize those outstanding individuals for 2017.
 
This year, the Forum will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at the Middlesex County Fire Academy from 9:00 to 4:00 . We will be honoring the founders of the CIT-NJ Center of Excellence Program along with the following.
 
Learn more about the event, or register here!

 CarePlus Doubles Clinical Presence in Local School Districts
 
Newly Established Drop in Center at Tenafly Middle School

During the past year, CarePlus has doubled its presence in local schools, contracting with 7 additional districts to provide an on-site clinician to establish a collaborative school and clinical environment focused on psycho-education, skill-building, and therapy with experienced professionals.

The CarePlus School Based Services began in 2005 at Manchester Regional High School, with the development of a stigma-free drop-in center called the Falcon's Lounge. Since then, the program has expanded to 14 districts in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Somerset, and Union counties. These numbers do not include the additional districts that utilize CarePlus for school clearances.

"These services are essential for our students, especially with so many traumatic incidents on the local, national and global level," explained Lorraine Gehrig Mullins, Director of CarePlus School Based Services. "Serious mental health problems are on the rise among youth, with 1 in 5 children and adolescents experiencing a behavioral health problem during their school years."

School-based clinicians work closely with administration to provide custom-tailored services that meet the need of each unique student body. The programs assists school administration by creating awareness around important social issues such as bullying, suicide prevention, substance use education, and healthy relationships.

Some of the positive outcomes include: an increase in attendance, grades, attention and engagement; a decrease in stress, anxiety, substance abuse and hospitalization; and a reduction in the number of students sent out of district.

"Our clinicians focus on the more challenging cases, such as students who are struggling with acute crisis or unhealthy family dynamics," Mullins continued. "We work to keep the student in district through immediate crisis counseling and support, on-going therapeutic services, faculty training, family intervention and education, and onsite school clearance assessments to ensure safety and linkage to appropriate resources."

Administrative professionals have affirmed that by accounting for mental health issues within the student body, the on-site therapeutic support allows for school staff to focus on their primary roles and responsibilities throughout the school day.

In addition to the continuum of care that is opened up for the students, their families also have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of services that CarePlus offers for all levels of need.

"Thank you for recognizing this need and for proactively addressing it in a most effective manner."

Newly Established Drop in Center at Tenafly High School


SUN to Streamline Services to Address Youth Substance Use

CarePlus has been selected as the recipient of the Substance Use Navigator (SUN) grant from the New Jersey Division of Children and Families (DCF). The purpose of the grant is to increase understanding of adolescent substance use needs and maximize available resources.

"CarePlus has a longstanding collaboration with DCF," explained Nicole McQuillen, Vice President of Children and Family Services at CarePlus. "Our experience and outcomes have shown that children with behavioral health challenges can remain stable in the community and avoid out-of-home placement through a complete continuum of care."

The SUN will provide consultation to community providers, Children's System of Care (CSOC) system partners, families, advisory groups, and governmental entities serving or advocating for youth (under 21 years of age) with substance use challenges and residing in Bergen County. The SUN will be part of a state-wide network of Navigators that will inform DCF of changes needed to increase access to substance use services and address a mounting public health crisis.

"CarePlus has managed Bergen County's Children Mobile Response and Stabilization System (CMRSS) for over 16 years, a program that has the capacity to serve as a crucial point of access for families seeking substance use treatment" McQuillen continued. "Plus, with our clinical presence in local school districts, we will be able provide exclusive information about community needs at the ground level."

The SUN will facilitate communication and coordination across partnering organizations and systems. Community needs, existing programs, and new initiatives will be presented to local Stigma-Free task forces, the Community Health Improvement Project Mental Health and Addictions Task Force, the Mental Health Board, and other provider and public platforms.

"Our ability to build collaborations has been pivotal to the success of the targeted population. For example, The HART program has established an access point for treatment at the Paramus Police Department, and it demonstrates our innovative and cooperative relationships within the community."

Read the full article here...
 
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Divided We Fall: A Call to Unity for Advocates
An Opinion Editorial by Caitlyn Yerves, Advocacy Specialist 

"What bothers me most is that stigma has become the black hole of advocacy, stealing thousands of advocates away from fighting to change our laws and policies." *
 
In his book " Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill", DJ Jaffe takes a powerful stance on the way the mental health system is divided. There is no denying the reality that he unfolds through his research... and, while there are some things that I do not agree with, I feel that his stance on "stigma" is worth thorough consideration.
 
Before I get into it, I want to be clear that I honor the validity of prevention programs, advocacy and community education as essential tools for progress. However, advocates need to get on the same page and unite our efforts, otherwise we are fighting a losing battle. The truth is, there is plenty of money to be gained for mental health programs - including the increasingly popular Stigma-Free campaign. But, the biggest problem is not mental health, the pressing and critical issue is untreated serious mental illness.
 
"The mental 'illness' system disappeared and the mental 'health' system replaced it." *
 
We have to talk more about the fact that many people are dancing around: untreated serious mental illness is a threat to individuals and their communities. The bottom line is that more attention and funding needs to be directed towards treating individuals with serious mental illness, as opposed to those struggling with poor mental health. It is essential the advocates understand the difference, which DJ explains with integrity and passion.
 
Individuals who live with severe and persistent mental illness require care coordination that often goes beyond the scope of mental health resources that are available in any given geographic area. With a dwindling number of psychiatric beds in state hospitals, and vanishing funding for the community based mental health system... it is critical to address the impending crisis with an educated and unified approach.
 
Most organizations in New Jersey are operating under a model that only reimburses one case management service per individual per day. Meanwhile, multiple around-the-clock services are being provided to keep that person stable, in the least restrictive environment. This obstacle not only sends these organizations into debt for providing necessary care, but can also make wellness and recovery an impossibility for the individual.
 
We are fortunate that CarePlus has been selected as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC). This payment model finally starts to expand the scope of reimbursable services beyond the four walls of a mental health center - which is what community mental health providers have been doing, despite the lack of reimbursement.
 
However, we are only 1 of 7 organizations in the state - and only 1 of 8 states in the country - that have this opportunity to make comprehensive healthcare a reality. The remaining providers in the state are stuck in the funding paradox: cut services and jeopardize individual wellness, or provide the services without reimbursement and jeopardize the organizational sustainability.

"The failure to focus funds on the seriously mentally ill causes the most seriously ill to cycle in and out of the most expensive settings: jails, prisons, and hospitals." *
 
The lack of access to the full continuum of care is a major problem for our society, and the largest obstacle is faced in the efforts to streamline social services. The holes in the system are increasing the number of individuals with serious mental illness that go untreated, leaving them in a vicious cycle of suffering, frustration and often, danger.
 
With more and more tragedies occurring on a regular basis, it is evident that it is time for united action. We can do better, and I really do believe that we will.
 
Spreading awareness and cultivating compassion, in the way that the Stigma-Free initiative has been working to do, sets the foundation for something that we can really build on. And, I think that's what DJ's frustration is with the Stigma-Free advocacy: there is so much power there... but it hasn't blossomed yet.
 
According to a recent presentation at the NJ Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, there are thousands of Stigma-Free volunteers in our communities. It is time for more of those volunteers to mobilize on behalf of our friends, families and neighbors that truly are most vulnerable: those who are struggling with serious mental illness, and either cannot or will not engage in treatment.
 
I also want to emphasize the usefulness of the Stigma-Free initiative. By creating a healthy dialogue around "mental health", more individuals are seeking treatment before reaching the point of crisis. More families are being connected to resources, services and information that helps them to notice the warnings signs sooner. With this kind of progress and awareness, not only can we prevent traumas and tragedies, but those individuals that suffer with a chronic serious mental illness will also have more support from their communities.  
 
However, we still have a lot of work to do. Majority of the municipalities throughout Bergen County, and some surrounding areas, have proclaimed themselves Stigma-Free - but it is essential that we walk our talk. I strongly recommend that Stigma-Free supporters dive into DJ's research to find inspiration and get clear on where our service is most needed.
 
This is not an assignment for the weary, nor is it a statement of one side over the other - it is a call to action for the passionate, and a call to unity for advocates. Please continue to expand your understanding, and use this knowledge to illuminate your work. 
 
* All quotations come from DJ Jaffe's book "Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill". More information can be found via MentalIllnessPolicy.org and Treatment Advocacy Center.  
 
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Enhance Your Wellness with myStrength Online!
 

CarePlus is excited to announce that our community and supporters have access to the tools and resources available via our partnership with myStrength, Inc.
 
myStrength offers a range of personalized web and mobile resources to improve mental health and overall well-being. Each user's myStrength experience is unique, based on the individual's wellness assessment and personal profile. The program includes: eLearning to help overcome stress, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and substance use disorders; simple tools and exercises as well as trackers and daily inspirational quotes and videos -- in an online environment that's safe and secure.

myStrength uses proven, evidence-based materials grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology and other empirically validated therapeutic approaches. myStrength is designed to be used independently or in conjunction with other care.  
 
Moving into the summer months, we are looking to further engage and benefit our whole CarePlus community with the resources available through myStrength. Create your personal account now: Click Here and use access code: CarePlusHealthyMinds 

**CarePlus staff and those receiving service have separate access codes, contact Caitlyn if you have any questions about getting started!
 
Stay tuned with the News & Events section on our website. 
Obligatory disclaimer ("the gray area"): This newsletter is compiled by humans, and you know how humans are: we make occasional mistakes - not too many, but they do happen. Please do not consider a rush in judgment. We - "the humans" - apologize in advance for any omissions, inaccuracies, misspellings, and flagrant discombobulations. Should you desire to suggest a correction or addition, please email marketing@CarePlusNJ.org