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New Jersey Hope and Healing provides emotional support services in wake of pandemic

More than one third of New Jersey adults reported exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in early June, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey.

To help residents navigate the emotional and behavioral health impacts of COVID-19, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ), Catholic Charities and Family Service Bureau of Newark are providing support services through the New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling program (CCP), according to a press release from the MHANJ.

This initiative is supported by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services through a federal grant.

New Jersey residents finding it difficult to deal with the fear, loneliness, anxiety, anger, grief and feelings of disconnection are encouraged to connect with trained mental health staff through a variety of free and confidential services offered via phone, text or virtually as part of the New Jersey Hope and Healing CCP, according to the press release.

Residents can reach trained staff through the NJ MentalHealthCares Help Line by calling 866-202-HELP (4357) or texting NJHOPE to 51684 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

The MHANJ team can provide emotional support via phone or chat, including a referral to a specific program or crisis counselor. People may also opt in for care messages delivered via mobile phone to help them cope with emotional stress on a longer-term, ongoing basis, according to the press release.

In addition to the helpline and texting services, residents also have access to crisis counseling and virtual support groups. The MHANJ is offering a variety of support groups, including sessions for teachers, parents, seniors, healthcare workers and teens. The full schedule of groups can be found at https://www.mhanj.org/njhope/

“We want people to know they are not alone during these challenging and anxious times,” New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said. “Help is just a phone call or text away. We want to make it as convenient as possible for people to reach out and get assistance and support. Please reach out.”

“There is no doubt the country, and New Jersey in particular, are in the midst of a historic upsurge of physical and mental health issues,” said Carolyn Beauchamp, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.

“This is a crisis unlike anything we have ever seen before and we are proud to work with the New Jersey Department of Human Services to help the people of New Jersey and to guide them to the resources they need to get through this unprecedented crisis,” she said.

Established by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the mission of the New Jersey Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program is to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the effects of disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho-educational services, according to the press release.

This need is especially acute during the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to the press release.

The program supports short-term interventions that involve the counseling goals of assisting affected individuals in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating stress, assisting in reviewing their recovery options, promoting the use or development of coping strategies, providing emotional support, and encouraging linkages with other individuals and agencies who may help in their recovery process.

“As professionals in behavioral health, we at the MHANJ know all too well that emotional instability resulting from this crisis may cause distress, leading to poor decision-making, which in turn can lead to people more serious emotional issues or the overuse of alcohol and drugs,” Beauchamp said. “NJ MentalHealthCares, the new text line, crisis counselors and virtual support and discussion groups are all available to help.”

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