Private and Public Sector New Jersey Leaders Meet for Mental Health First Aid Partners Summit
Mental Health Association in New Jersey

Panelists and leadership for the Mental Health First Aid Summit. Back row, left to right: Bob Kley, Vice President and COO, Mental Health Association in New Jersey; Robin E. Mockenhaupt, PhD, MPH, MBA, Chief of Staff, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Lauren Luik, Project Director, Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey. Front Row, left to right: Carolyn Beauchamp, ACSW, MSW, President and CEO, Mental Health Association in New Jersey; Linda Rosenberg, MSW, President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health; Bryan V. Gibb, Director of Public Education, National Council for Behavioral Health; Joseph Pyle, MA, President, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral

MARCH 16, 2016 — Verona, NJ – Nearly 100 private and public sector leaders from throughout the state met today to address a major, but often overlooked, community health issue — mental health — at the largest gathering of its kind to date, the Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey Partners Summit.  Mental Health First Aid is an innovative, evidence-based 8-hour curriculum that teaches mental health literacy and preparedness skills to help people recognize early signs of a mental health problem and offer support and resources.   More than half a million people in the U.S. have been certified since 2008, with just over 7,000 of them in New Jersey.

“The Partners Summit‘s aim was to convene leading organizations, including businesses, philanthropic foundations, municipalities, non-profits and educational institutions to talk about this issue that affects all of us – mental health – and explore ways to work together to bring Mental Health First Aid to every corner of the state,” said Robert Kley, Vice President and COO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, which received funding for  Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

National health experts Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, DC, and Robin E. Mockenhaupt, PhD, MPH, MBA, chief of staff for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, served as keynote speakers.   Rosenberg’s tenure at the National Council, which runs Mental Health First Aid in the U.S., has been characterized by major legislative policy developments that are improving mental health care at all levels.  The grassroots-driven Mental Health First Aid movement has received nearly $50 million in federal funding over the last three years, but according to Rosenberg, more must be done at the state and community levels.

“With one in four Americans experiencing a mental health or addiction disorder each year, the National Council is committed to making this important training as common as CPR,”  she said. “Achieving that, and the goal of our ‘Be One in a Million’  Campaign — which seeks to double the number of people certified in Mental Health First Aid — will only be possible through the state-based momentum and collaborations created by efforts like Mental Health First Aid for New Jersey.”

At today’s gathering at the Robert Wood Foundation in Princeton, attendees learned more about the Mental Health First Aid curriculum and how it is being used across the state to reach a variety of audiences in diverse community settings that include schools, colleges and universities, YMCAs, houses of worship, libraries, businesses, police and fire departments and hospitals.

William J. Lovett, Executive Director of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, the organizing body of the state’s 37 Ys, believes that the Partners Summit offers participants a unique opportunity to affect important changes in perceptions about mental illness that can have a lasting and beneficial impact on the entire state.   “By exploring synergies between providers of Mental Health First Aid and organizations that have the infrastructure and resources to disseminate and support it, we can ensure that every community in New Jersey has access to this life-changing – and in some cases, potentially life-saving – training,” Lovett said.

“Mental health is a critical aspect of overall health and wellness, but common misperceptions exist that foster stigma and prevent people from getting the help they need,” said Carolyn Beauchamp, president and CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, host of today’s gathering.  “We must  give everyone the tools they need to recognize when there is a problem as early as possible — and most important, to know what to do to help themselves or someone else.  Mental Health First Aid does just that.”

Other distinguished speakers at the Summit included James J. Tedesco, III, Bergen County Executive; Joe Pyle, President, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation; and Bryan V. Gibb, Director of Public Education, National Council for Behavioral Health.

About the Mental Health Association in New Jersey

Since 1948, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) has worked to fulfill its mission by responding to issues and concerns raised by consumers of mental health services, and then working for changes and promoting policies that protect their rights and fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness and makes recovery difficult. The MHANJ advocates for systems change with elected and appointed government officials on the state, federal and local levels. Administrative, legal, budgetary and treatment issues that affect people with mental illness are all addressed.

MHANJ’s state headquarters is located in Verona, New Jersey; additional locations include Atlantic, Hudson, Ocean and Union Counties and affiliates in Essex, Monmouth, Morris and Passaic Counties and Southwestern New Jersey. For more information about MHANJ, visit, call 973-571-4100 or follow MHANJ on Facebook.



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