Huttle: Early Intervention Provides Better Care for Mental Health Patients

Several New Jersey counties have the Early Intervention Support Services program to provide treatment to patients in mental health crisis. Human Services Committee Chair Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that about 11 counties statewide currently provide those services and she hopes they can be offered statewide.

The services have not extended to more counties because of a lack of funding, according to Huttle. The early intervention program allows for patients to receive service in a home-like atmosphere. In areas without the program, patients are taken to a hospital emergency room and, according to Huttle, there are no specialists available to treat mental health patients.

“These early interventions systems or support services that are in about 10 to 11 counties right now take that vicious cycle away,” Huttle said. “To me, not everyone may need to go to a hospital or a center. The crisis is growing among young people today. Unfortunately depression, anxiety pushes people, young people, over the edge to fatalities and to suicide. They’re in a point of crisis where they may need that help immediately and that help may not be necessarily from an emergency room.”

Huttle began supporting the Early Intervention Support Services program after an experience in her own district. A woman came to Huttle’s office needing mental health services. The district had a county support service, which Huttle called. The service sent a specialist to treat the patient.

Huttle says that funding needs to be in place in order for people to get the treatment that they need and that a hospital emergency room may not be the best treatment for someone with a mental illness crisis.

According to Huttle, New Jersey may not be able to afford to expand the program throughout the state until costs are minimized. It would cost about $10 million to extend the services statewide, she said.