Advocacy E-News August 29, 2013
SCHOOL EMPLOYEES WILL GET BROADER MENTAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN 2014
Beginning in January, the 190,000 members of the School Employee Health Benefits Program and their families will get broader coverage for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness, a state-appointed review committee decided today. The decision by School Employees Health Benefits Program Plan Design Committee means the same coverage now provided to a person with a biologically-based mental illness — such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder — will apply to non-biologically based illnesses like alcoholism, drug addiction and eating disorders, according to an announcement from Gov. Chris Christie’s office. The committee also voted to remove the restrictions on the number of days of treatment available for inpatient and outpatient care.
JUDICIARY DEVELOPS TECHNOLOGY TO SHARE MENTAL HEALTH INFORMATION
The Judiciary is playing a critical role in providing mental health information for gun background checks. The Civil Commitment Automated Tracking System (CCATS) was developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts to supply information to the New Jersey State Police concerning the identity of people who have mental health adjudications or commitments that would disqualify them from obtaining firearms. The Judiciary has forwarded to the state police nearly 413,000 records of involuntary commitments, or those cases in which judges have found mentally ill persons to be dangerous to themselves or others.
STUDENTS MENTORED ON NEW SUICIDE HOTLINE AND OVERDOSE PREVENTION LAW
A new statewide suicide hotline and new overdose prevention law are saving lives and can help students whose struggles with the pressures of university life can sometimes seem daunting, the Commissioner of Human Services and Secretary of Higher Education stressed today. In addition to the suicide hotline, New Jersey has a new statute called The Overdose Prevention Act, also known as the Good Samaritan Law. Signed May 2 by Governor Chris Christie, it protects most people from prosecution if they call emergency services when someone is overdosing on alcohol or drugs.
VA HOLDS SUMMIT ON VETS’ MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
Nationwide, the number of VA patients being treated for mental illness spiked 45 percent between 2005 and 2012, reaching about 1.8 million. But over the same period, the number of veterans in the system grew by only 16 percent. In 2010, an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide each day. In response, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs called for centers across the country to hold summits. The summit assembled VA staff with other health providers, veterans, city police and community-based groups to brainstorm outreach and support strategies.
MARLBORO HOSPITAL, SLATED FOR DEMOLITION
Fifteen years after its last patient left, the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital is being reclaimed by New Jersey’s wildlife. The hospital, which stands in a state of dilapidation and decay on Newman Springs Road, was slated for demolition in 2011, a project that was supposed to be completed this year but has been delayed by a state study. The state plans to demolish the structures on the property to create open parkland, which would then be sold to Marlboro Township. In testimony to the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority earlier this year, Raymond Arcario, Deputy Executive Director of the Department of the Treasury’s Division of Property Management and Construction said the cost of the cleanup and demolition has ballooned from an estimated $27 million in 2011 to $75 million due to the presence of contaminants on the site.