Advocacy E-News December 23, 2014
December 23, 2014
N.J. STATE POLICE TO CHANGE TRAINING ON MENTALLY ILL
The State Police will change its training program for troopers on how to handle people with mental illness after facing criticism it was not doing enough in response to the controversial 2008 death of a Newark man on the side of a highway. Members of the division’s training academy recently met with officials from the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Jersey and the Mental Health Association in New Jersey to discuss improvements. Representatives of the advocacy groups said they included bolstering scenario-based training with volunteers who portray people with mental illness and collaborative new training courses. In addition more instructors at the academy would receive Crisis Intervention Team training, an intensive, 40-hour course recognized across the country as the leading mental health instruction program for police.
DMHAS OFFERING NEW HOUSING SUBSIDIES
The New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) announced that it will be making available a handful of tenant-based housing subsidies each month for the next 4 months (through April 2015) enabling individuals currently in Level A+ and Level A housing, who no longer need that level of care, to move into supportive housing. The vacancies created by individuals moving out of the Level A+/A housing must be filled with individuals in a state psychiatric hospital who are ready for discharge.
Contact the NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services DMHAS) for more information
N.J. PROSECUTORS COMBINE COMPASSION WITH JUSTICE FOR DEFENDANTS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
New Jersey municipal and superior courts handle over one hundred thousand matters each year involving defendants who are suffering from varying degrees of mental illness. While the courts have not kept accurate figures, the New Jersey Department of Corrections has determined that approximately 14 percent of New Jersey inmates suffer from depression, schizophrenia, or are bipolar. In 2005, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office initiated a program of treatment and oversight as an alternative to incarceration. The program redirected certain nonviolent criminal defendants with mental illness issues from the normal prosecution-oriented calendar to one of treatment. The plan often included taking prescribed medication, attending any recommended therapy and assistance in finding a place to live and/or work.
Read Prosecutor Romankow’s Star Ledger Opinion Piece
N.J. MENTAL HEALTH DIVISION LAUNCHES PROBE INTO DEATH
New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services is conducting an internal investigation into the death of a 36-year-old fatally shot by Phillipsburg police last month, a spokeswoman confirmed this week. Those who knew him have said he suffered from schizophrenia and had previously been involved with Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains.
With police often being the first to respond to a scene, Warren County has taken steps to try to teach officers how to better react to mentally ill individuals. Since 2009, Warren County’s Law Enforcement Mental Health Committee has provided mandatory training to officers in nearly every department. The county in September also hosted its first Crisis Intervention Training, a weeklong course designed to teach police how to recognize and respond to mental illness and psychiatric emergencies.
SENATE RELEASES BILLS TO ADDRESS STATE’S HEROIN EPIDEMIC
The State Senate approved six bills aimed at fighting the heroin and prescription drug epidemic that is affecting New Jersey. A bill sponsored by Senators Vitale and Dawn Addiego, would help those looking for the right treatment options for their own recovery to make an informed decision. The bill, S-2373, would require the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to annually prepare a Substance Use Treatment Provider Performance Report including the patients’ success of remaining abstinent from drugs and alcohol after completion of the program, employment figures, education and job training admissions and housing information. The bill was approved with a vote of 36-0.
Learn about the full package of bills
OPINION: LET’S INTEGRATE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE INTO PRIMARY CARE
Finding time to go to the doctor can be quite a hassle amid hectic work and family obligations. In these circumstances, many patients ignore the condition and do not get the behavioral health treatment they need. This pattern often leads individuals to seek costly treatment in hospital emergency departments and can result in inpatient hospitalization. Access to behavioral health treatment in the primary care setting could help avoid costly hospital visits and improve patients’ overall health. New Jerseyans who go to the hospital frequently with complex behavioral and physical health problems are sending us a message: Our current policies are not working for them. Let’s remove the barriers to integrated care and focus on doing what is best for New Jersey.
Read more from Senator Vitale’s Op Ed
23 NJ HOSPITALS PENALIZED FOR PATIENT SAFETY
More than 700 hospitals, including 23 in New Jersey, will see their total Medicare payments docked by 1% in fiscal 2015 as part of the first year of a federal penalty program aimed at reducing preventable harm and improving patient safety. The Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, established by the healthcare reform law, penalizes hospitals that fall within the worst-performing quartile, based on measures of adverse events occurring during hospital stays. More…
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION INVESTIGATES INSURERS FOR BIAS
The Obama administration said Monday that it would investigate prescription drug coverage and other benefits offered by health insurance companies to see if they discriminated against people with AIDS, mental illness, diabetes or other costly chronic conditions. In a letter to insurers, administration officials said that a health plan could be engaging in unlawful discrimination if its list of approved drugs excluded all medicines needed to treat a particular condition, or if it restricted access to such drugs by charging large co-payments or requiring prior authorization.