January 30, 2023
On January 24, 2023, the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) hosted the final of three 988 Mobile Crisis Public Listening Sessions, with the first two having taken place on January 17, and 19, 2023. During these listening sessions, New Jerseyans were able to offer verbal testimony on 988 mobile crisis response teams.
DHS and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) have been working to create these new teams that will respond to suicidal, mental health, and substance use crisis situations across New Jersey.Juliet Hyndman of Warren County, President of the Warren County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is one such individual who testified during a listening session. As quoted on njspotlightnews.com, Hyndman stated, "I'm advocating that the state is committed to, at the onset, at least one mobile crisis team per county."
Another individual who provided testimony, Cassandra Dock, a community advocate from Essex County, was also quoted on njspotlightnews.com saying, "We need to have a task force that's monitoring and making sure that whatever we [are] putting in place, whatever you hear today, whatever we're asking you to do and if you decide to do it, that it's being done . . . Because a lot of times, we'll have these sessions, we'll listen, but we won't do anything."
NJAMHAA Senior Health Policy Analyst Mary Abrams provided oral testimony during the January 19th session, both welcoming the 988 Mobile Crisis Teams for the relief they will provide and highlighting areas of focus for the efforts going forward. Abrams stated, "Once the adult mobile crisis teams and the planned crisis stabilization centers are integrated in the existing service array, they will serve as a great complement to New Jersey's Psychiatric Emergency Support Services (Screening Centers), which have uniquely and superbly served our citizens for decades."
Additional focus was placed on the staffing of mobile teams. As Abrams stated in her testimony, "The Managing Entity RFP [Request for Proposals] says that teams will include a Bachelor's level mental health professional and a trained peer counselor, supervised remotely by a licensed mental health clinician." She continued, "NJAMHAA expects that the RFP for mobile crisis teams and subsequent regulations will be more specific in outlining the qualifications of team members and recommends that they require the Bachelor's degree to be in a mental health related field and that the mental health professional have a minimum of one-year experience within a community-based behavioral health program, though two years of experience and, ideally, one year in crisis services would be preferable."
Click here to access the full testimony from NJAMHAA, and click here to read more on this story.