Mental disorders are among the most prevalent of all health conditions. As stated by Dr. Thom Bornemann, Director of the Mental Health Program at The Carter Center, "We have effective treatments available, but the vast majority of people who need treatments do not get them." According to the Carter Center, much remains to be done. People with mental illnesses still face great stigma and discrimination. The importance of mental health promotion is under-recognized, and insurance providers often do not provide parity for mental health treatment. Considering the fact that mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States, disparity for mental health benefits is simply and completely unacceptable.

The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health states that too many Americans are unaware that mental illnesses can be treated and recovery is possible. In fact, a wide array of effective mental health services and treatments are available to allow children and adults to be vital contributors to their communities. Yet too many people remain un-served, and the consequences can be shattering. In a speech announcing the Commission, President Bush said, "Our country must make a commitment: Americans with mental illness deserve our understanding, and they deserve excellent care. They deserve a health system that treats their illness with the same urgency as a physical illness."

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada, and a World Health Organization study identified mental illness as a leading cause of disability worldwide. The prevalence of mental illness - coupled with stigma and lack of access to treatment - is a now a global concern reaching crisis proportions. This groundbreaking study found that mental illnesses (including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia) account for nearly 25% of all disability across major industrialized countries. Unfortunately, several obstacles to achieving the goals set here in the United States by the President and the Commission remain, with stigma leading the pack. Sadly, only 1 out of 2 people with a serious form of mental illness seeks treatment for the disorder.

The time has come for there to be parity for mental health care. It was clearly a breakthrough when the first-ever Surgeon General's report on mental illness was released in 1999. However, it speaks volumes about the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness when one realizes that the vital role of mental health in all our lives was not officially acknowledged until the eve of the 21st century.

The issue of health care and insurance in our nation is at a tipping point and in dire need of reevaluation. It will likely take years before quality health care coverage for all Americans becomes a reality. In the interim, mental health care must take its rightful place in the healthcare continuum. Statistics showing the remarkable prevalence of mental illness indicate that the mental health of our citizens can no longer be ignored or misrepresented. The consequences of ignoring this issue will result in financial and human cost infinitely greater than any cost associated with adoption of parity.


New Jersey's State Mental Health Agency

Valerie Mielke, Assistant Commissioner
Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services
222 South Warren Street
P.O. Box 700
Trenton, NJ 08625-0727
Phone: 609-777-0702
Toll-Free: 800-382-6717
24 Hour Referral Hotline: 877-294-HELP (4357)
Fax: 609-777-0662

State Advocacy and Protection Program

Disability Rights New Jersey
210 South Broad Street, Third Floor
Trenton, NJ 08608
Phone: 609-292-9742
Toll-free: 800-922-7233 (Statewide)
TDD: 609-633-7106
Fax: 609-777-0187

Mental Health Boards by County:
Click here for a listing of County Mental Health Boards

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If You Need Immediate Psychiatric Care:
Click here for a Listing of Emergency/Crisis Centers in New Jersey

Click here for a Directory of Mental Health Services
Information on Medicare/Medicaid

National - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244-1850
Phone: 410-786-3000
Toll-free: 877-267-2323
TDD: 866-226-1819

Local - Region 2: New York Regional Office
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
26 Federal Plaza, 38th Floor
New York, NY 10278-0063
Phone: 212-616-2205
Fax: 212-264-6189

Horizon Blue Cross Coverage Info:
Click here for the Provider Directory

Oxford Behavioral Hotline: 800-201-6991 Mon-Fri between 8AM and 6PM

United Healthcare - Members Only

Aetna Healthcare

Cigna Healthcare - 800-433-5768

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Parity Information
The parity law for New Jersey requires that every individual and group hospital service corporation contract that provides hospital or medical expense benefits and is delivered, issued, executed, or renewed shall provide coverage for biologically based mental illness under the same terms and conditions as provided for any other sickness Expanding mental health coverage in New Jersey

Advanced Directives

Mental Health Advanced Directives are a relatively new phenomenon in the mental health field. They are very similar to general medical advanced directives in the sense that they give the patient power in deciding treatment options. People in a psychiatric emergency might not be able to clearly communicate their treatment options and preferences. By completing an official advanced directive (information on how to do this is below), patients can provide information such as medication preferences, restraint options, doctor and hospital preferences, and general information deemed important to that person and their treatment. To learn more about Advanced Directives, please click on the following links. Please note the legal and state issues associated with Advanced Directive when contemplating completing such a document. It is suggested that if you are currently in treatment for mental health you should ask for assistance with your mental health providers.

Sample form and info on legality in New Jersey:

Copy of Advanced Directive Legislation: [pdf 88k]

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