CarePlus NJ Awarded $125K Grant to Expand Mental Health Awareness Trainings for School Officials, Law Enforcement, First Responders and Armed Service Members

Program Will Focus on Identifying and Assisting Adults and Children with Mental Illnesses
Paramus, N.J. (October 13, 2021) – Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus NJ”), a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, announces it has been awarded a $125,000 grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to launch the Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) Initiative.

The program will train school personnel, emergency first responders, law enforcement, veterans, and armed services members and their families to recognize and respond to individuals with mental illness. A total of 1,425 individuals will be trained and resources will be disseminated to 250 community organizations over the course of the five-year project period.

The Mental Health Awareness Training Initiative will leverage and build upon the existing resources and infrastructure of CarePlus NJ’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainings, an education-based program that works with mental health professionals and law enforcement to improve communication, identify mental health resources for those in crisis and ensure police officer and community safety, and its Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings, which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents in Bergen County. The focus of the program will be to train individuals to recognize and respond to children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and adults with serious mental illness (SMI).

“The Mental Health Awareness Training Initiative is an important extension of the CIT and Mental Health First Aid trainings CarePlus NJ has been providing to thousands of community members over the past several years,” said Amie Del Sordo, Senior Vice President, Hospital and Community Services, CarePlus NJ. “With a significant number of adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbance in Bergen County, it is critically important those on the frontlines of crisis situations such as law enforcement, EMS, and school personnel are trained in how to identify and effectively intervene should they encounter an adult or child in crisis.”

According to state data, there are nearly 50,000 adults with serious mental illness and over 20,000 children with serious emotional disturbance in Bergen County. The prevalence of SMI among adults and SED among children in Bergen County demonstrates the critical importance of training law enforcement, emergency first responders and school personnel to identify mental health crisis situations, implement crisis intervention strategies and effectively refer individuals with mental illness to available community resources.

The primary goals of the Mental Health Training Initiative are to increase the capacity of community stakeholders to identify and respond to individuals with mental illness, particularly SMI and SED as well as establish sustainable infrastructure to effectively refer individuals with a mental illness to community resources, especially as a diversion strategy for individuals with SMI and SED in crisis. At the end of the five-year project period, MHAT staff will train 1,425 individuals in the following areas:

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) – 500 individuals

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) – 475 individuals

MHFA-Public Safety and MHFA-Fire/EMS – 450 individuals

For more information about the MHAT Initiative, collaboration opportunities with the program, or to make a referral, please contact 201-967-4000, ext. 57671.

About CarePlus NJ

For more than 40 years, Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus NJ”) has been a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children in northern New Jersey. Based in Paramus, New Jersey, CarePlus NJ is committed to providing the most comprehensive integrated treatment options through 72 programs designed to meet the full spectrum of health and wellness needs for adults and children in the communities it serves. Specializing in acute care, CarePlus NJ provides immediate, high-quality health services and support programs for individuals in crisis. Nationally ranked for excellence in customer satisfaction by the Mental Health Corporations of America, CarePlus NJ is mission driven ensuring that anyone who needs it has access to specialized care. To learn more about CarePlus NJ and its wide range of programs and services, visit

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