TINTON FALLS, NJ - As part of its relief efforts in the community, the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County (MHAMC), in coordination with Monmouth County, developed a taskforce of licensed volunteer counselors to provide free telephone and/or telehealth sessions to residents experiencing trauma-focused mental health concerns resulting from COVID-19. In a press conference held on Thursday, April 16th, Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley announced that, in collaboration with the Board of Chosen Freeholders and Monmouth ACTS, the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County will soon be able to connect individuals with licensed clinicians. “Beginning Monday, April 20, the MHA of Monmouth County will open phone lines to connect residents in need of emotional support to pro bono licensed professionals,” said Freeholder Kiley.
“MHAMC is pleased to work in conjunction with the County, fostering resiliency and hope at this critical time,” says Wendy DePedro, MHAMC CEO. “As families, children, healthcare professionals, first responders, and business owners navigate COVID-19 challenges, we will continue to be here for our community.”
The taskforce, modeled after MHAMC’s response to Superstorm Sandy in November 2013 in which 60 counselors were recruited to provide free evidence-based trauma counseling and psychoeducational programming to the general public, consists of counselors holding the following professional licenses: LCSW, SW, LPC, LAC, LMFT, RN, psychologist, pastoral counseling, and disaster response crisis counseling certifications.
MHAMC’s Outpatient Services Director, Nancy Tighe, says: “Our goals are to promote strategies for coping, validate emotional reactions, identify persons at risk, and normalize feelings of hopelessness in this unprecedented public health environment.”
As of April 16, 2020, MHAMC received over 55 responses from local counselors and organizations seeking volunteer opportunities to address the growing need for mental health services in Monmouth County.