The New Jersey Associates of Mental Health Agencies, Inc., (NJAMHA) has reacted to Governor McGreevey's proposed FY 2005 State Budget with mixed feelings. While community mental health providers are appreciative of the 1 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) in community care contracts proposed by the Governor, much more is needed to prevent the community health system from teetering over the edge into a crisis similar to the child welfare system.
Over the last few decades, New Jersey has shut down antiquated state psychiatric institutions and moved 18,000 individuals with mental illness back into the community with the promise of adequate services. The closure of the hospitals saves the State of New Jersey almost $2 billion annually. However, only a fraction of that money is invested in the community system.
The impact on individuals with serious mental illness can be devastating. Lack of adequate services can lead to homelessness, imprisonment, substance abuse, suicide, shattered lives and crumbling families.
NJAMHA will now shift its attention to the State Legislature to make its case for more funding for the community mental health system.
Based in Mercerville, NJ the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Inc., (NJAMHA) is a statewide trade association representing the needs of nonprofit behavioral health provider organizations. Founded in 1951, NJAMHA represents 125 hospital-based and freestanding mental health agencies throughout New Jersey that employ more than 25,000 people and collectively treat more than one million incidences of mental illness and substance abuse annually. NJAMHA's mission is to champion opportunities that advance its members' ability to deliver accessible, quality, efficient and effective integrated behavioral health care services to metal health consumers and their families.
Director, Public Affairs