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A Quarterly Newsletter from NJ MentalHealthCares

Winter 2013
NJMentalHealthCares HelpLine helps individuals, families and communities identify, understand and effectively navigate programs that comprise the mental health and human services delivery systems.  Built upon the philosophy of an individual's capacity for self-reliance and self-determination through advocacy, affirmation, education, research and service NJMentalHealthCares has exemplified commitment to service, community and integrity.  

 New Jersey Hope and Healing Continues to

Provide Calm after the Storm

NJ Hope and Healing English logo

The NJMentalHealthCares HelpLine serves a dual role as the New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline in times of crises. "The New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline was activated as part of the state's Superstorm Sandy response. It is one of the key public access points to the New Jersey Hope and Healing project which provides crisis counseling and support to those in need," said Renee Burawski, Crisis Counseling Program Project Manager and MHANJ's Director of Training and Information Services. 


Although months have passed since the storm, those who have been highly impacted by the disaster may be just starting to face  its most challenging mental health fallout.  While the emotional effects immediately following a disaster are shocking and devastating, initially there is a surge of assistance and aid to survivors. After some time, however, that initial "heroic" response fades, and individuals often enter a difficult period of "disillusionment." The full and lasting effects of the disaster become painfully apparent; people become frustrated, angry and discouraged. The New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline provides universal access to counseling and support for anyone struggling with these or similar reactions through a simple toll-free phone call.  


One recent caller's situation provides an example of the importance and benefits of reaching out for this type of support.

The Helpline received a call from a single mother of three small children. They lost their home in the storm and were forced to relocate to a hotel far from their familiar neighborhood. At the time of her call she was still in the hotel with no family or friends nearby to provide support or assistance. She was not working and was on a fixed income.  She recently visited an Emergency Room due to physical problems that surfaced since the disaster.  Her efforts to seek housing and financial support were complicated by the fact that she did not have a car or childcare. The Behavioral Health Specialist who answered the call provided information and education about common reactions to traumatic stress, including possibly some of the physical problems this caller was experiencing. Supportive counseling was provided and together they worked on coping skills such as breathing exercises and organizing and prioritizing responsibilities in small steps daily. The caller was also referred to receive a face-to-face visit from a community crisis counselor and case management to assist her in obtaining the services she needed.


For all those affected and struggling to cope with the effects of Sandy, the New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline helps to provide the "calm after the storm."


Click here for more information about New Jersey Hope and Healing, including links for printable materials.


New Jersey Hope and Healing is sponsored by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Disaster and Terrorism Branch, through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, in partnership with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. The New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline is funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

roulette National Problem Gambling

Awareness Week is Coming!

March 3 through 7 

2013 Theme --
Problem Gambling:

A New Understanding of a Community Concern



New Jersey Mental Health Care's staff of trained behavioral health professionals provides a comprehensive assessment of both mental health and addictive disorders - including often overlooked gambling addiction. Our staff can listen and screen for the signs of a gambling problem. These warning signs can be related to money problems, behavior patterns, emotional changes, and relationship issues. Pathological gambling is highly correlated with major depression, but does not go away with treatment for the depression alone. Gambling is also correlated with higher risks of suicide and family violence.


Use the links below and take some time during this year's campaign to familiarize yourself with problem gambling, warning signs, assessment tools, and resources.


Council on Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey

The Council on Compulsive Gambling in NJ provides a valuable resource for information regarding the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. It additionally serves as a statewide advocate to protect the rights and ensure access to quality treatment for compulsive gamblers and their families.  Their readily accessible resources include the 1-800 Gambler Helpline,  a 20-question gambling self-assessment and on-line referrals. The Helpline is available 24 hours per day for anyone who thinks they may have, or knows someone else who may have a gambling problem. 


National Problem Gambling Awareness Week


National Council on Problem Gambling 


Psychiatric Comorbidity Associated with Pathological Gambling (article with research)


Risk Factors for Suicide Ideation and Attempts Among Pathological Gamblers (paper)


Problem Gambling and Intimate Partner Violence (article)

Do You Know Someone Who Needs Our Help? 


njmhc with numberNJMentalHealthCares is New Jersey's mental health information  and referral service. Our mental health professionals use their experience and understanding of the mental health system to provide callers information and connect them to the mental health and related services they need, such as: legal, housing, employment, rehabilitation, inpatient and outpatient, self help and more. 


The phone number is 1-866-HELP(4357) or TTY 1-877-294-4356) for free, confidential mental health information and referral.


Calls are answered by knowledgeable mental health professionals. They use most up-to-date listing of New Jersey's public mental health services. Callers may also search an on-line database. Calls may be transferred to a service and the counselor may stay on the line until the caller is comfortable. There is follow-up to assure satisfaction with referrals.  


NJMentalHealthCares is an MHANJ service that is funded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Click here for more information and to request free materials for distribution to those who could benefit from NJMentalHealthCares.

  NJMHC Phone

Call Center Statistics

November 1, 2012

January 31, 2013 

Total Calls:  5284


Most Requested Services:
Behavioral Health 
Services: 62%
Advocacy and Consumer Empowerment: 18%      
Mental Health Resources
Suicide Prevention Resources

Study Demonstrates a Differential Component of Hoarding

Hoarding, which has been proposed as a new category in the DSM-V, is often compared to characteristics of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Depression.  However, a recent study comparing individuals who hoard with those experiencing OCD and a control group found that "brain scans revealed the abnormal activation in areas [of the brain] known to process error monitoring, weighing the value of things, assessing risks, unpleasant feelings, and emotional decisions."  Therefore, a focus on the impaired decision making aspect of hoarding may help to better understand and treat those affected. Click here to read more.


Anxiety in the News 

Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older every year - that's almost one in every five, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The results and people living daily while filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the common, mild anxiety that is brief and related to a stressful event, anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and may get worse without treatment.  Therefore, it is not surprising that our 2nd most common presenting concerns on the NJMentalHealthCares HelpLine (after depression) are anxiety related complaints.

New February 2013 Research Release: Brain Imaging Predicts Psychotherapy Success in Patients with Social Anxiety

Many individuals might not guess that Social Anxiety Disorder is the third most common psychiatric disorder in the U.S. (following depression and alcohol dependence). The effects of social anxiety can significantly interfere with daily tasks as simple as leaving the home to go to school or work. Common coping mechanisms skills such as using alcohol or drugs or excessive eating food in social situations may then cause additional symptoms and disorders. 


Current treatment approaches for Social Anxiety Disorder include psychotherapy and medication.  However, there is little research demonstrating which approach or combination is better suited to an individual. A new study demonstrates that brain imaging can be used to help predict the best treatment option for each client. Click here to read more.  

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