Critical Need to Improve Access to Psychiatric Care in NJ

Run/Walk for Wellness and Recovery
Addresses Awareness Round Stigma

readytowalkwellnessThe Seventh Annual Walk/Run for Wellness and Recovery highlighted the need to address the stigma associated with mental illness and how that affects the extreme shortage of mental health treatment in New Jersey.

A 2013 Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) study found that the number patients seeking psychiatric care far exceeds the number of psychiatrists who can treat patients for their immediate needs.

The Run/Walk for Wellness and Recovery took place on October 5, 2014 at Johnson Park in Piscataway. The walk was hosted by MHANJ in partnership with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in New Jersey (NCADD-NJ.)

In press coverage in myCentralJersey.com:

“According to Carolyn Beauchamp, president and CEO, MHANJ, the state is facing a serious crisis with regard to treatment options and accessibility for those suffering with mental health and addiction illnesses.

She said that in some cases, patients have had to wait three to six months for an appointment to see a psychiatrist.

‘This is not only unacceptable to the individual and family,” Beauchamp said. “It can lead to additional strain on the system to treat worsening conditions that have not been addressed in a timely manner.’”

Said Carolyn Beauchamp.

The study found through surveying 525 New Jersey psychiatrists that:

  • 51% of psychiatrists are accepting new patients,
  • 25% could see new patients within 1-2 months, and
  • 25% would have to make new patients with more than 2 months.

If you very ill and seeking treatment, this means that you may be forced to go to the emergency room or your general practitioner or even worse, just not seek treatment.

Making the connection between the study and last weekend’s Run/Walk:

“‘What we hope to accomplish with the walk is to do away with the stigma that hovers around mental health issues and substance abuse,’ Beauchamp said there is less funding available in the area of mental health services because of the stigma attached to this type of disease.”

Beauchamp said.

Monarch Housing sees the connection between homelessness and mental illness. The January 2014 point in time count of the homeless, which was coordinated by Monarch, found 13,900 homeless individuals with roughly 30-40% identifying that they struggled with mental illness.

“Since the problem is multifaceted, the solution also must be tackled on many levels, so providing housing with the appropriate level of mental health services is critical to resolving the growing crisis.

With regard to the relationship between homelessness and mental illness, he said it’s difficult to assess what comes first.”

Said Richard W. Brown.

Click here for myCentralJersey.com’s coverage of the Run/Walk and Study.

Click here for more information about the Mental Health Association in New Jersey Network Adequacy Report.