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COVID-19 and Civil Unrest Increase the Risk of Behavioral Health Challenges for Young People
State Children’s System of Care Offers Helpful Services

TRENTON – National research is showing that the psychological impact of COVID-19 and social unrest has disrupted the mental health and well-being of young people.  The emotional fatigue associated with isolation may be affecting their grades, their moods, their behaviors, and their connectedness to family and friends.   For many youth, social isolation is exacerbated by economic uncertainty, grief over the loss of loved ones, and civil unrest in their communities, placing them at greater risk.

“The pandemic has, for many children and youth, meant remote learning, no recreational sports, no birthday parties or school dances; no in-person or group outlet. Coupled with reports of social injustice throughout the country, it can be a confusing and scary time,” said Department of Children and Families’ Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “For youth already struggling with grades or confidence or belonging, these social issues can exacerbate their mood swings, emotional withdrawal, substance use or behavioral conditions. Families need to know that there is help available.”

DCF’s Division of the Children’s System of Care (CSOC) is New Jersey’s public behavioral health system for all children up to age 21. It provides coordinated access to mental health supports, substance use treatment and services for intellectual or developmental disabilities. CSOC services are available to all New Jersey youth at no cost to the family.

“Everyone has bad days, but prolonged, worrisome behaviors from children and youth, such as changes in mood, new or increasing signs of anxiety and depression, substance use, disregard for household rules such as curfews, and defiant or self-harming behaviors are  warning signs that can be addressed,” said Mollie Greene, Assistant Commissioner for CSOC. “Parents can call for help 24/7/365.”

CSOC services can be accessed by calling PerformCare, CSOC’s contracted services administrator, at 1-877-652-7624.  Services may include:

  • Mobile Response and Stabilization Services are available to deliver real-time de-escalation and crisis counseling at the family’s home or another location identified by the family.
  • BioPsychoSocial Assessment can be rendered in the home by a licensed clinician to determine if your child can benefit from behavioral supports and services.
  • Care ManagementOrganization services provide wraparound supports and connect families to treatment and other services for youth with significant emotional and behavioral health concerns.
  • Intensive In-Community Service Providers are available to deliver clinical treatment and behavioral assistance services to youth at home or other community locations. Residential Treatment Services are available for youth who require more intensive services than can be provided through a community-based service plan.

Services recommended and authorized are paid by a variety of sources, such as Medicaid, NJ FamilyCare, and commercial or private insurance. Families will be asked to provide insurance information for any coverage they may have.

PerformCare, CSOC’s contracted system administrator, is a national, full-service behavioral health managed care organization that supports its members and our network of providers through specialized behavioral health and human services programs in both the public and private sectors. It serves millions of members nationwide, including over 50,000 youth and families in New Jersey.

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