ISSUE | MENTAL HEALTH

More N.J. aid needed

Community mental-health providers are struggling to deliver medication management services to individuals with mental illnesses - and, in many cases, substance-use disorders - because the fee-for-service rates have not been increased. The rates are not being adjusted despite proof that they fall short of the cost and despite the dire consequences for those who need them.

By getting these and other outpatient services, individuals would be able to avoid more costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations for behavioral and physical health issues.

Medication management requires the high-level, clinical expertise of psychiatrists or advance-practice registered nurses. It is incumbent upon New Jersey officials to find more money to invest in these vital services for vulnerable people. It is a societal obligation to care for the state's citizens and keep them healthy and living in the community. It also makes good fiscal sense for the state's bottom line.

|Debra L. Wentz, president and CEO, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Mercerville