New State Laws Foster Recovery from Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders

September 22, 2016

MERCERVILLE, NJ - Governor Chris Christie recently signed two mental health and substance use bills into law at an especially meaningful time: shortly before Recovery Month, an annual initiative of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to "increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover," according to its website, One recently approved law will expand and further fund clean syringe-exchange programs, helping those with addictions to intravenous drugs, such as heroin, to reduce the risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases and to have access to resources that promote recovery from substance use disorders. Additionally, the Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act requires colleges and universities to have individuals with mental health training who focus on reducing student suicides and attempted suicides available 24 hours a day.

"We applaud these legislative initiatives to ensure access to services and foster recovery from mental illnesses and substance use disorders," Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA), stated. NJAMHAA is a statewide trade association representing 160 organizations that serve New Jersey residents with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders, and their families.

Throughout the month of September, NJAMHAA is supporting National Recovery Month and disseminating information about recovery through its social media pages and membership networks. As part of NJAMHAA's efforts, public service announcements are airing during National Recovery Month on a number of radio stations throughout the state; member agencies continue to work to earn recognition of National Recovery Month from county governments; and a social media campaign to share statistics and inspirational quotes about behavioral health disorders and the hope of recovery has been ongoing. NJAMHAA's shareable graphic content for National Recovery Month can be found on its Facebook page ( and on its Twitter feed (

NJAMHAA continually urges federal and state legislators to improve access to behavioral healthcare, addictions treatment, and recovery services. Currently, New Jersey's transition to the fee-for-service billing system for behavioral health threatens the continuation of certain essential services. NJAMHAA has been at the forefront of pushing for more adequate rates for a range of outpatient services including medication management, without which tens of thousands of consumers will lose services and thus the possibility of recovering from mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

NJAMHAA encourages residents to take advantage of the resources available through the National Recovery Month website, and to seek treatment if they are struggling with mental illness or a substance use disorder. To find agencies within the state that offer behavioral health services, residents can visit NJAMHAA's website at

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