CarePlus Doubles Clinical Presence in NJ School Districts

December 5th, 2017
Tenafly high-school drop-in center.

During the past year, Care Plus NJ, Inc. (CarePlus) has doubled its presence in local schools, contracting with 7 additional districts to provide an on-site clinician to establish a collaborative school and clinical environment focused on psycho-education, skill-building, and therapy with experienced professionals.

The CarePlus School-Based Services began in 2005 at Manchester Regional High School, with the development of a stigma-free drop-in center called the Falcon’s Lounge. Since then, the program has expanded to 14 districts in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Somerset, and Union counties. These numbers do not include the additional districts that utilize CarePlus for school clearances.

“These services are essential for our students, especially with so many traumatic incidents on the local, national and global level,” explained Lorraine Gehrig Mullins, Director of CarePlus School-Based Services. “Serious mental health problems are on the rise among youth, with 1 in 5 children and adolescents experiencing a behavioral health problem during their school years.”

School-based clinicians work closely with administration to provide custom-tailored services that meet the need of each unique student body. The programs assist school administration by creating awareness around important social issues such as bullying, suicide prevention, substance use education, and healthy relationships.

“In the short time that [the clinician] has been here, she was able to give assistance to a student who was struggling with a contentious divorce of his parents, support a family who is dealing with cancer and another family in an unsafe home setting,” Radburn School Principal Jill Lindsay, expressed in her review of the CarePlus clinician. “These daily life situations make it very difficult for these children to come to school every day and learn.”

Tenafly middle-school drop-in center.

Some of the positive outcomes include: an increase in attendance, grades, attention and engagement; a decrease in stress, anxiety, substance abuse and hospitalization; and a reduction in the number of students sent out of district.

“Our clinicians focus on the more challenging cases, such as students who are struggling with acute crisis or unhealthy family dynamics,” Mullins continued. “We work to keep the student in district through immediate crisis counseling and support, on-going therapeutic services, faculty training, family intervention and education, and onsite school clearance assessments to ensure safety and linkage to appropriate resources.”

Administrative professionals have affirmed that by accounting for mental health issues within the student body, the on-site therapeutic support allows for school staff to focus on their primary roles and responsibilities throughout the school day.

“Thank you for recognizing this need and for proactively addressing it in a most effective manner,” Lindsay concluded.

In addition to the continuum of care that is opened up for the students, their families also have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of services that CarePlus offers.

For more information on CarePlus School-Based Services, please contact Lorraine Gehrig Mullins at 201-265-8200 x5703 or LorraineG@CarePlusNJ.org.