CarePlus NJ, Bergen New Bridge awarded federal grant for suicide prevention amid COVID-19

CarePlus NJ Inc., a Paramus-based primary and behavioral health service, in collaboration with Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, a not-for-profit safety net hospital also in Paramus, announced on Monday they have been awarded $800,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The grant will be used to fund the Bergen County Suicide Prevention and Response Program, which will advance the effort to prevent suicide and attempted suicide amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide comprehensive and intense follow-up and support treatment for people aged 25 and older that are at risk of suicide in Bergen County.

“It is expected that the number of individuals seeking mental health services will rise exponentially due to COVID-19,” Lorelle Holway, vice president of hospital and clinical services for CarePlus, said. “Social restrictions aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in severed support systems, increased levels of stress, anxiety, conflict, violence, and a sense of isolation, leaving many in a state of crisis. Through this grant, we’ll be able to identify individuals that are at high risk of harming themselves and rapidly triage them to the appropriate levels of care and support services to ensure their safety.”

Additional services include suicide prevention training, suicide screening and assessment, transition to clinical treatment services and recovery support services. A focus will be placed on high risk populations, including domestic abuse victims and essential personnel.

“Research shows that domestic violence victims are prone to suicidal behaviors and the pandemic has created an even more volatile environment for this vulnerable population, which increases their risk of self-harm. Additionally, reports of depression and anxiety are on the rise among our essential workers. This type of trauma can lead to chronic mental health challenges including suicidal ideation, if not properly identified and addressed,” Deborah Visconi, CEO and president of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, said. “Through a comprehensive approach to care and employing the Zero Suicide Model across both of our care systems we’re strengthening efforts to ensure that high risk suicidal individuals get the immediate care they need while reducing the number of preventable deaths by suicide.”

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