Mental Health Association in New Jersey and Monarch Housing Walked for Wellness and Recovery
Over 300 people participated in the 10th Annual 5K Walk for Wellness and Recovery on Saturday, October 14, 2017 which was sponsored by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) and its partner, Monarch Housing Associates.
Activities at this year’s Walk included:
- a DJ,
- children’s playground,
- warm-up stretches and exercises,
- complimentary refreshments and snacks before and after the Walk,
- prize raffles following the Walk,
- community resources and an information alley.
“Our Walk called attention to the importance of emotional wellness and coping with substance use disorders as well as fighting the stigma related to these issues. People who face behavioral health challenges often have difficulties establishing the stability of permanent housing,” said Carolyn Beauchamp, President and CEO, MHANJ. “An important component of the MHANJ’s advocacy initiatives and program goals is to help assure that people have fair and adequate access to appropriate shelter, which, in turn, contributes to mental health and stability. With such a close connection between behavioral health and housing, Monarch Housing is a natural partner for us.”
“Now is the time to be aware of the pressing needs of people with mental illness and people who are homeless, and partner with them on their paths to recovery and wellness,” said Richard W. Brown, CEO, Monarch Housing Associates. “For most of the developments Monarch Housing works on, the demand for affordable housing is anywhere from five to 10 people applying for every available unit. Unfortunately, the demand for affordable housing always exceeds the number of available units.”
Every year, the Walk for Wellness and Recovery brings together those who care about helping all New Jerseyans rebuild and stabilize their lives. Simeria Dewalt, 35, lives in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with her four children, ages 18, 17, 10 and 9. She and her four children live in an apartment that she rents with the assistance of a housing voucher.
Affordable housing makes a big impact on Simeria’s family’s life. “Being stable is very important,” says Simeria about her family’s apartment.
Over the past 5 years, Simeria has accomplished a great deal. She attends college and is working towards a degree in social work. Says Simeria, “I want to help others as I have been helped.”
Erick Clark, MHANJ Peer Recovery WarmLine Specialist, knows firsthand the benefits of seeking mental health services, and uses his experiences to help others. “Physical health and fitness have always been important to my personal life, but nothing really changed emotionally until I addressed the matters that most plagued me, my mental health” Erick explains.
“Mental health treatment has helped me define and pinpoint the emotional issues that I didn’t understand. After being involved in advocacy for mental health, and meeting others with a similar purpose, I was introduced to the MHANJ’s Peer Recovery WarmLine and began volunteering to help others living with mental health challenges understand that they are not alone.” Through his journey to recovery and wellness, along with the support he offers callers, Erick derives great pleasure in helping others on their road to recovery as a example of what is possible once you start that journey.
The MHANJ is dedicated to promoting good behavioral health for all New Jerseyans, reducing the barriers that prevent people from seeking or offering help and support, and building a strong base of support and network of services for people with behavioral health issues. The MHANJ continues to be a consistent force and leader in advocacy and services in our state for those individuals and families affected by behavioral health challenges. The association has broadened its scope, encompassing all behavioral health policy, practice and services to enhance the lives of individuals and families affected by the entire array of mental illness and substance use disorders.
MHANJ’s state headquarters is in Union County, with additional offices across the state in Atlantic, Hudson, Ocean and Union Counties, with affiliates in Essex, Monmouth, Morris, and Passaic Counties as well as Southwestern New Jersey.