MHASWNJ Public Policy Updates

During the past year, The MHASWNJ Public Policy Committee has discussed the significant challenges that mental health consumers face when trying to obtain and/or maintain welfare benefits including Emergency Assistance (EA) housing benefits through the Camden County Board of Social Services (CCBSS).  Camden County Mental Health Administrator Rashid Humphrey, Mary Lynne Reynolds, and MHASWNJ Public Policy committee members have had a series of meetings with Shawn Sheeky, Director of CCBSS and Camden County, and  Freeholder Carmen Rodrizuez to discuss the concerns that have been raised by mental health consumers and mental health providers regarding the way in which the CCBSS staff interpret and implement the department’s policies and procedures.

The Public Policy Committee of the Mental Health Association in Southwestern New Jersey,  together with the Camden County Mental Health Board and the Camden County Board of Social Services are now working  to strengthen communication and collaboration between the Camden County Board of Social Services/ Emergency Assistance and the behavioral health and social service agencies in the county.   As a result of these discussions:

  • CCBSS has identified staff member Jaritza Nunez or Nicole Jefferson at 856-225-8379 for behavioral health and social service case managers to contact when they have encountered a problem in navigating the emergency assistance application process.
  • An overview of the Emergency Assistance application process will be presented on Feb. 4 from 10AM – 12 PM at the Camden Branch of the Camden County Community College for case managers and social service providers whose clients include those in need of emergency assistance.
  • A date is being scheduled for the Mental Health Association in Southwestern New Jersey to provide the 8 hour Mental Health First Aid certification class for the CCBSS caseworkers in order to expand their knowledge and understanding of mental illnesses as well as to provide effective communication and de-escalation skills when assisting an individual who has a mental illness.