State Leaders Express Gratitude for NJAMHAA’s Impactful Advocacy

More than 200 past and present members of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) and several key state leaders, including Governor Richard J. Codey and Governor James E. McGreevey, participated in a virtual celebration of the trade association's 70th anniversary yesterday. Christine Norbut Beyer, MSW, Commissioner, Department of Children and Families, and Valerie Mielke, MSW, Assistant Commissioner, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, also were in attendance and shared their views on NJAMHAA as a partner and an effective advocate on behalf of service providers and the individuals they serve.

"I am so grateful to the Board, staff, all members and other partners, including state and federal leaders, who have contributed to every step of progress for our behavioral healthcare system," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA. "I cannot thank you enough for all you do to make NJAMHAA as impactful as it has been for more than 70 years in improving and saving lives for New Jersey's children, youth, adults and families. That is what we celebrate most."

In a statement presented via video, Governor Phil Murphy acknowledged the work of his predecessors and NJAMHAA, all of whom he credited for "a public understanding of mental health and addictions that has finally begun to evolve."

"I'm proud that our Administration has made mental health and addictions budget and legislative priorities and I'm grateful to have NJAMHAA leading the way as you have been for seven decades," Gov. Murphy added.

Gov. Codey acknowledged NJAMHAA's role in individuals' increasing comfort with discussing mental health and Gov. McGreevey, who currently serves as Chairman of the Board for New Jersey Reentry Corporation, praised NJAMHAA for "driving sound public policy that is pragmatically based; it works in the field."

"People are willing to talk about their mental health and they're ready and willing to get help," Gov. Codey elaborated.

"I have the pleasure of working with women and men who, without NJAMHAA's advocacy, would be in a far different place," added Gov. McGreevey.

Having been involved with NJAMHAA for 30 years since her days as a grad student intern at a provider agency, Assistant Commissioner Mielke stated, "I have a true and deep appreciation for NJAMHAA's advocacy, which is essential to so many strides we have made in mental health and substance use treatment, including parity, advanced directives and electronic health records."

Commissioner Beyer also shared a long-time perspective of the association. "Since 1951, the mental health and substance use landscape has changed in dramatic ways. NJAMHAA shepherded in the Children's System of Care and has continually pushed us to become a better system for the children and families of New Jersey," she said.

Prior to the event, NJAMHAA received a Joint Legislative Resolution from Senator Anthony M. Bucco and Assembly Members Aura K. Dunn and Brian Bergen (all R-25th District), which states: "The strength and prosperity of the State of New Jersey and the vitality of our American society greatly depend upon such concerned and industrious entities, such as the NJAMHAA, that are devoted to the well-being of others…this Legislature lauds the New Jersey Association of Mental Health & Addiction Agencies, pays tribute to its meritorious record of service, leadership, and commitment, and extends sincere best wishes for its continued success and vigor." Click here to read the entire resolution.

Click here to watch a recording of the event, which includes a video in which Governors Codey, McGreevey and Chris Christie, past and present NJAMHAA Board members, additional members, and other behavioral healthcare stakeholders share their views and memories of NJAMHAA's impact throughout its history. You can click here to watch only the historical video. Please also click here to download a commemorative publication that details the history of NJAMHAA and the behavioral healthcare system in New Jersey and across the nation.

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