HACKENSACK- The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Wednesday adopted Resolution #987-16, allocating $1,467,200 to the County’s various community partner agencies for providing mental health services as well as allocating funding for other programs to increase awareness of mental illness and provide direct assistance to indigent residents who depend upon the mental health system of care for vital treatment. The 2016 funding represents a 15% increase in funding since County Executive James Tedesco took office in 2014.
Included in the 2016 funding allocation is additional funding for the 7 partner agencies that contract with Bergen County to provide mental health treatment and support services: Advance Housing, CarePlus NJ, Collaborative Support Programs of NJ, Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare, Friendship House, Vantage Health System, and West Bergen Mental Healthcare. The increase comes just three years after the previous County Executive attempted to slash this funding by 25%, in a move that was soundly defeated by a bipartisan Freeholder majority.
County officials also indicated that additional funding added in 2014 has successfully been used to increase awareness of mental health and mental illness and promote the “Stigma-Free” initiative across the County, with 43 towns now having gone “Stigma Free”, 42 more than when the funding was first introduced in 2014. The County also plans to continue to use funding first added in 2014 to help caregivers and mental health agencies assist people with functional needs to prepare for emergencies and catastrophic events, and provide direct assistance for the County’s most needy and vulnerable residents.
“Bergen County has one of the best mental health systems of any County in the state, due in large part to these partnerships we have developed and the experienced and understanding staff here in the County Health Department and Mental Health Division,” said Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman Tracy Zur, who serves as Chair of the Health Committee, “We know how trying it can be for families and individuals who face mental illness, and we know the need for these services has never been greater. That’s why it’s crucial that we continue to ensure adequate funding for quality programs that have positive impacts on people facing these challenges in our county today.”
“Mental illness affects 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children,” said Freeholder Chairman Steve Tanelli, “so eliminating the stigma associated with it and increasing awareness is an important step in tackling this disease as a community. I’m proud that this Freeholder board continues to work with County Executive Tedesco to make Bergen County stigma-free and provide a quality continuum of mental health care.”