SAMHSA gives $4M CARES Act grant to CarePlusNJ to expand behavioral health services

CarePlus NJ Inc., a behavioral health service for adults and children, announced on Tuesday that it has been awarded it a $4 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act as part of a community response to combat COVID-19 in Bergen County and the surrounding area through 2022.

The grant, which will be distributed over a two-year period, will help increase access to care for vulnerable populations and expand on CarePlus NJ’s behavioral health clinic services to help those with Serious Emotional Disturbance, Serious Mental Illness, Substance Abuse Disorders and Co-Occurring Disorders.

It will serve 1,000 individuals in the community with the goal of increasing access to, and improving the quality of, behavioral health services.

“Untreated mental illness and substance use disorders significantly increases the risk of premature death, chronic physical health conditions, homelessness, incarceration and suicide,” Ann Marie Zihal, senior vice president of clinical services, CarePlus, said. “Northern New Jersey has significantly higher rates of inpatient hospitalization for behavioral health diagnoses compared to the state overall, as well as an alarming increase in children’s crisis intervention response over the past several years. We also know that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on mental health and wellness, and we expect to see an increase in individuals needing treatment and support services as a result. This funding is crucial to ensuring the health and safety of our communities by increasing access to care for some of the most vulnerable populations.”

The grant will cover initiatives including, but not limited to:

  • The launch of CarePlus NJ’s HERO Warmline, a free and confidential mental health call line;
  • A partnership to provide on-site clinical support in supermarkets for grocery workers;
  • Specialized grief counseling;
  • Greater focus on expanded family systems, community outreach and perinatal behavioral health, and more.

Through CarePlusNJ’s new perinatal mental health initiative, expecting parents and those with children will be screened for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, SUD’s and COD’s.

“New Jersey’s maternal mortality rate is almost double the national average and rates of postpartum depression in the state are also significantly higher than other areas of the country,” Daniel Finch, vice president of population health strategies and director of psychiatric urgent care services, CarePlus, said. “The CCBHC expansion funding will enable us to screen families for these disorders and connect them with the comprehensive, coordinated care they desperately need.”