CarePlus awarded $5M grant to help support behavioral health

CarePlus NJ has been awarded a $5 million grant over two years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of its Community Mental Health Center grant program.

The funding will restore and expand the delivery of clinical services impacted by the pandemic, support outreach efforts to engage historically excluded populations, and ensure that CarePlus NJ staff providing these services have access to inclusive, wellness-focused supports.

The help is very much needed.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 35% of adults with serious mental illness did not receive treatment. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019, the number of individuals experiencing a mental or behavioral health condition has doubled, creating long waitlists and limiting access to treatment.

The Community Mental Health Center grant program will help CMHCs like CarePlus NJ across the country implement trauma-informed, evidence-based and strength-based approaches to mitigate the emotional impact of the pandemic. Over the two-year project period, CarePlus NJ will implement the following activities:

  • Establish, strengthen and/or sustain the infrastructure necessary to provide audio and audio-visual, HIPAA-compliant telehealth capabilities;
  • Provide outpatient services for individuals with serious emotional disturbance, serious mental illness and cooccurring disorders;
  • Provide trauma-informed screening, assessment, diagnosis and patient-centered treatment planning and treatment delivery;
  • Provide clinical and recovery support services (e.g., psychosocial rehabilitation, case management services, peer support);
  • Develop and provide resources to address the mental health needs of CMHC staff.

CarePlus NJ, which views itself as a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, said the funding will be a big help.

“The impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to reverberate throughout our communities, disproportionately affecting vulnerable and underserved populations with behavioral health challenges and/or co-occurring substance use disorders,” Ann Marie Zihal, senior vice president, clinical services, said.

“This funding will enable CarePlus NJ to substantially scale our operations to meet the outsized demand for mental health and addiction recovery services, while also proactively engaging with historically excluded populations in the communities we serve to expand the reach of our resources and access to care.”

CarePlus NJ’s program goals for the funding include increasing outpatient treatment capacity to respond to increased demand for services for individuals with serious emotional disturbance, serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders; achieve a 100% reduction in waitlist time by enhancing service access via telehealth and in-person capacity; engage a minimum of 1,000 individuals into evidence-based practice-driven treatment and support services; and promote staff wellness activities that improve well-being. Additionally, CarePlus NJ will increase service engagement of historically excluded groups with a focus on minority populations by conducting targeted outreach initiatives to community stakeholders to address stigma and increase awareness of services. By the end of the project period, 90% of CarePlus NJ’s treatment workforce also will be trained on cultural humility practices, including microaggressions and implicit bias.