$10 Million Across FY22 and FY23 State Budgets to Help Address Shortage of Beds
A growing number of young people experience mental health problems, a nationwide behavioral health crisis that is impacting New Jersey’s youth to devastating effect and even more so following the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges to providing pediatric behavioral health is an overburdened system that is leaving children and teens waiting five or more days in acute care hospital emergency rooms for access to appropriate care and services. Today, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin joined in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health to highlight the combined $10 million state investment – $5 million from the FY2022 State Budget and $5 million from FY2023 – to support the capital expansion of the Carrier Clinic Child and Adolescent inpatient program.
“Our young people are vulnerable and the biggest challenge families are up against is time,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Right now, children and teens are waiting far too long to get into the right facility, referred to the right doctor’s office, and connected to the appropriate resources. Speaking to mental health practitioners who are on the front lines, one of the things I hear about often is the lack of in-patient beds and that’s a need that this funding will help fulfill.”
The largest behavioral health facility in New Jersey, the Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic has planned a $28 million expansion. With the help of state funding, the project includes:
- Up to 52 inpatient rooms for children, adolescents, and adults;
- An Academic Teaching Center and Medical Staff Suite to expand the capacity to teach physicians and other mental health professionals; and
- The creation of a new Family Support and Resource Center, which will help patients and their families through treatment.
“We know that the only way to tackle this youth mental health crisis, is through collaboration with strong partners – government, other health care partners and community stakeholders,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Together, we are making a difference.”
Continuing to prioritize a robust policy response amid the current mental health crisis, estimates put funding into mental health over the past two years at more than double New Jersey’s cumulative investment in the prior decade.
“As the parent of three young adults, I am deeply troubled by the growing number of children and teenagers struggling with their mental health,” said Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “We can, and we must, do more to ensure those in need of care are able to get it. I am grateful the legislature has taken action in prioritizing mental health funding over the last two years. This expansion will help to connect more residents with the support they need, when they need it.”
“Providing proper resources for behavioral health for our children has existed well before the pandemic, but is now even more evident,” said Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Many of our children are facing behavioral health challenges, and for too long, parents have struggled to locate the urgent care that they need. This funding will help the Carrier Clinic provide these critical services for our children.”
“New Jersey families can sometimes struggle to access mental health care for their children,” said Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “By adding beds specifically for the behavioral health needs of children, we are working to create healthier, happier, and more resilient communities.”
Last week, as part of ongoing awareness campaigns during Suicide Prevention Month, the Speaker also highlighted the state’s $12 million appropriation for the New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatric Collaborative (NJPPC). Supporting outpatient mental health care, the NJPPC helps to train pediatricians to provide care to lower acuity cases, and connects kids in need of higher-level services with specialized providers and programs.
“Governor Murphy’s administration in partnership with Speaker Coughlin and the legislature has made historic investments in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget to support and expand mental health services, particularly for young people who are struggling,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “These funds are building the pipeline of mental health professionals, creating more bed capacity, investing in innovation and increasing access to services for individuals across New Jersey’s communities. This expansion of services by the Carrier Clinic comes at a critically important time and these historic investments have helped make this possible.”
New Jersey has taken several steps to improve access to behavioral health care over the years: expanding mental health early intervention programs, issuing licenses for additional treatment beds, promoting measures to improve access to substance use disorder treatment and support services, and working to expand readily available access to behavioral health treatment providers. Earlier in July, the state also announced the funding for mobile crisis response in support of nationwide 988-crisis hotline.