With Launch of 988, Officials Highlight State’s Commitment to Mental Health

As a preface to last weekend’s official launch of the national suicide prevention hotline 988, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, held a press conference on July 15 to highlight funding for New Jersey’s mental health crisis response in its fiscal year 2023 state budget.

Joined by Acting Governor Sheila Oliver, Coughlin addressed the $28.8 million allocated for mental health programs in the spending plan while Governor Phil Murphy was out of state to attend the National Governors Association’s summer meeting. There, as he began his year-long presidency of the organization, Murphy also announced his president’s initiative: Strengthening Youth Mental Health.


The Governor signed the budget – Assembly Bill 2036/Senate Bill 311 – into law on June 30, 2022, which funnels $12.8 million toward the implementation of 988 and 16 million dollars for mobile crisis response to support those in need.

“We are at a critical point in our response to the mental health crisis and our investments in a strong continuum of care begin with the launch of 988, which will ensure that every person in every community can access the individualized care they need. “, Coughlin said. “Alongside the response to the crisis, we have also made significant investments in community services as well as essential food assistance and housing initiatives, all of which are linked to mental well-being and essential to our commitment to prioritizing to the needs of individuals and families across our state.”

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Now live, the helpline 988 is available 24/7 for call, text or chat for people going through a mental health or suicidal crisis, or those looking to help a loved one. The existing Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, will also continue to be available.

Oliver called the hotline “incredible progress in providing access to coordinated care for our state.”

Robert Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health


In a statement, Robert Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, added, “Hackersack Meridian Health is deeply committed to solving the crisis in behavioral healthcare by dramatically expanding access to care, better coordinating treatment and developing new new therapies to help 1 in 4 people. people struggling with mental illness or addiction.

Garrett added that the Hackensack Meridian healthcare team is grateful to the state legislature and Murphy for “an unprecedented investment in services that will undoubtedly save lives.” Coughin and Oliver made the announcement at Hackensack Meridian’s Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy.

Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-19th District, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services, and Seniors Committee, said the mental health crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With this year’s budget and the passing of S311, we are taking action to bring more attention to the problem, provide more resources, increase the number of behavioral health professionals, and create a robust crisis response system. to help those in need,” Vitale said.

In the statement, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon — assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — thanked the heads of state as well as call centers and behavioral health professionals who work “to support people in crisis, prevent suicides and save lives”.

“I am committed to continuing to work with our national stakeholders to achieve a smooth transition and greatly appreciate the partnership with our New Jersey state leaders,” said Delphin-Rittmon.

On July 5, Rutgers University’s National Behavioral Health Care Call Center announced that it had been selected to serve as one of 12 national rescue centers that will triage overflow calls made to the hotline. .

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