Changes Planned In NJ Mental Health And Drug Addiction Programs

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — New Jersey state legislators are pouring over a proposed reorganization of how mental health programs are administered in the Garden State.

Governor Chris Christie’s plan was proposed just as the state government shutdown occurred, and subsequently got little attention. His idea, which would take effect at the end of August, shifts mental health and drug addiction programs from the Human Services Department to the Health Department.

That may not sound like much, but some Democrats like Burlington County Assemblyman Herb Conaway, are in favor of it. And he’s a physician.

“There has been this division between what is regarded as mental health and physical health, when in fact what we ought to be talking about is health for an individual and a population in a holistic way,” Conaway told KYW Newsradio.

The Administration argues that putting those services under the health department will eliminate bureaucracy and improve overall care.

Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett says those getting the help probably won’t notice any change at all.

“We’re bringing over all the program staff, the senior management team, the subject matter experts,” Bennett said, “and because they’re all moving over, it will feel seamless to the outside world.”

Legislative leaders are reviewing the proposal, and could block it with resolutions in the Assembly and Senate.

More from David Madden
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