Support Mental Health Professionals

Support Mental Health Professionals

287 have signed. Let’s get to 500!

Why this petition matters

Started by Caitlyn Yerves

Every County in New Jersey has a designated Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program (PESP), which plays a vital role in serving the needs of NJ residents with mental illnesses. The PESP is operated by either a Community Mental Health Center or a large hospital system.  

Leadership at these centers work to establish meaningful partnerships with local law enforcement, hospitals and other community providers. Together, we are seeing life-saving social support systems fall apart at the seams in real time, and we need your help to maintain these services and the highest quality of care, for those who need it most.

We are collectively advocating to address the staffing crisis for PESP throughout the state, specifically for crisis and outreach workers. Our teams engage in extensive communication and collaboration with our partners in public health, and all of us are already feeling the negative effects of this crisis. There is a significant threat to public safety is evident, and we are seeing impacts to the community, including but not limited to:

  • Longer wait times to outreach and provide support to those in need of crisis response services.  
  • Inability to quickly respond and support first responders and social support systems.  
  • Phone lines are busy, as call volume has significantly increased.
  • Hospitals are back logged with patients waiting to be seen.

Recruitment and retention are the main issues for this staffing crisis due to the lack of qualified applicants. Recruiting Screener Center staff is unique in that, candidates must be new enough to the field to accept an entry level position, experienced enough to meet the job requirements (per DMHAS regulations), and resilient enough to manage the intensity of the work.  

We believe NJ residents deserve the best care and services. Despite lacking necessary staff, these crisis outreach teams continue to provide the best quality care they can under these debilitating circumstances. This has not been easy for anyone, including the staff in the Screening Programs. Their expertise in providing these services is certainly overlooked and undervalued. They continue to operate 24/7 to meet the needs of those experiencing a mental health crisis, in spite of the limited resources they have.  

In order to preserve our ability to provide these much-needed crisis response services, we need reinforcement from all levels of government. This includes regulatory relief and budget appropriation, to ensure that mental health providers are not only able to recruit, but also retain these essential workers. 

Your understanding and support make a huge difference for the dedicated professionals that continue to show up and serve in these critical roles, and helps to maintain public safety for the State of New Jersey.

287 have signed. Let’s get to 500!