Inspiring Successes, Rising Demand Underscore the Need for Greater Behavioral Healthcare Funding

May 28, 2024

"To help someone get stable and to empower someone to regain control of their lives, it's very, very rewarding. If we didn't do it, who would? Everyone can experience mental illness and people need help now more than ever. I am proud of the work we do." - Adiba Saleem, LSW, Manager, Acute Partial Hospitalization, AtlantiCare Behavioral Health
Click here to watch a video in which Adiba shares more about the value of services that she and her team provide.

"The C.O.P.E. program has supported me through extremely difficult times and continues to be a valuable resource. I don't know where I would be without these services." - Illias

Since before college, Illias has struggled with anxiety and participated in CarePlus NJ's Children's Out-Patient Endeavors (C.O.P.E.) mental healthcare program. After high school, he continued with C.O.P.E. to overcome challenges associated with living off campus, continuing with school and working, which exasperated anxiety along with feelings of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. With support from Jen Velten, MA, LPC, ACS, CCTP, DRCC, Senior Director of Trauma Services and C.O.P.E. Supervisor and Clinician, Illias achieved his goals. In addition to successfully managing anxiety, he graduated from Rutgers University, is working in pediatric care and plans to earn a Master's degree and then attend medical school.

At 10 years old, Zhan was referred by an inpatient child psychiatric unit to CFG Health Network's A Step Ahead Elmer program. Although the treatment team was told that Zhan would most likely be residential bound when she finished the program, Zhan achieved a complete turnaround. In fact, she became a role model for her peers and a leader in the program, which she graduated from at the highest level.

"I just want to be the person that I wish I had when I was their age. I struggled through so much...Even if I can just be there and let them know that they are here and they are heard and they are loved, that they belong, that, to me, is all that matters because I promised myself that if I ever got through those moments in my life, I would be that for somebody else." - JP Pedoto, LSW, Pride+, Program Coordinator and Clinician, Family Connections
Click here to hear more about JP and his dedication to helping others in the LGBTQIA+ community.

NJAMHAA urges the State Legislature to keep in mind Illias, Zhan and others' inspiring successes and Adiba, JP and other providers' tremendous contributions to these achievements as they deliberate on the FY2025 State Budget.

Please click here to read and be further inspired by additional success stories in the brochure of NJAMHAA's campaign, Diverse Faces: All Are Worthy of Full Investment, and here to watch additional campaign videos, which further illustrate the value of behavioral healthcare services and the workforce who provides them. Please also click here to download a one-pager of NJAMHAA's budget and legislative priorities.

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