New Jersey has launched numerous programs this year to provide mental health and addiction treatment services. Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest developments.
New Jersey Launches Mental Health Partnership for College Students
A new program will deliver mental health services to students in 44 colleges and universities in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges announced. This makes New Jersey the first U.S. state to offer comprehensive mental telehealth services to college students under a statewide system. Funding comes from $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds, complementing New Jersey’s previous $16 million investment for institutions of higher education to develop mental health community partnerships.
The state has contracted with the mental health and wellness platform Uwill to offer round-the-clock access to free, virtual mental health services for students enrolled in participating schools. Students can interact with trained and licensed mental health therapists at no cost to themselves or the school. They can also receive immediate crisis intervention or participate in wellness activities. If a student needs medication, he or she may obtain a referral to a prescribing provider.
Mental Health Services Could Soon Be Available in N.J. Homeless Shelters
In May 2023, New Jersey’s Gov. Murphy signed into law a bill that allows mental health professionals to provide care at homeless shelters in the state. Previous regulatory barriers had prevented such specialists from delivering services in shelters. This law could expand mental health services for individuals who may otherwise not seek treatment, according to Connie Mercer, CEO of the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness.
New Partnership Seeks to Reduce Opiate Addiction in New Jersey
The New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC) and the Archdiocese of Newark have partnered to launch an opiate addiction treatment referral program, starting July 1, 2023. NJRC will provide voluntary training sessions for priests within the Archdiocese and help them identify individuals who want and need addiction treatment. Priests will then be able to provide appropriate NJRC referral information to interested individuals, who can contact NJRC to be referred to an appropriate professional and treatment agency.
NJRC will use a database to document the services it delivers and follow up with individuals who received a referral. If appropriate, individuals can enter NJRC’s Employment Orientation program to learn valuable skills and receive job-readiness assistance, as well as other services such as medical care and transportation. NJRC will provide progress reports on these clients to the Archdiocese.
New Jersey Medicaid Reforms Increased Buprenorphine Prescriptions, Analysis Found
New Jersey Medicaid reforms that took effect in 2019 increased buprenorphine prescriptions by 36 percent through December 2020, researchers at Rutgers University have found. These reforms had removed prior authorization requirements for buprenorphine prescriptions, raised reimbursement for in-office opioid addiction treatment, and created regional centers of excellence for addiction treatment.
The analysis also found that the percentage of caregivers prescribing buprenorphine increased at a faster rate after the reforms. However, the percentage of prescriptions that stayed active for more than 180 days did not increase. Fortunately, total overdose deaths fell by 232 from 2021 to 2022 in New Jersey.
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