Healing in North Hudson

Communities continue sweeping public awareness campaign on mental health resources

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness, including substance-use disorders each year. While it’s difficult to determine the number of people, due to a lack of diagnoses, who do not receive treatment, most researchers estimate that less than half of mentally ill people in the United States access treatment.

The lack of treatment is due to stigma and socioeconomic issues. When people with mental illnesses go untreated, their illnesses worsen.

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The growing cost of people with serious mental illness burdens the healthcare system. It’s estimated that nearly $200 billion in earnings nationally is lost due to treatable mental health conditions. Untreated mental illness is a leading cause of educational dropout rates.

Barriers to treatment takes a toll. The average life expectancy for an adult with a serious mental illness is 25 years less than the general population.

Early deaths are the result of suicide, accidental overdose, and other medical conditions that go untreated due to mental illness.

Support is here

Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center, Hudson County’s northern municipalities, public library systems, and a coalition of local nonprofit organizations under the banner of North Hudson Partnership are working to connect as many people as possible with the treatment they need.

Each nonprofit has unique programs geared toward mental health services. The North Hudson Partnership will help them pool their resources.

Awareness of and participation in the nonprofits’ programs needs to be greater. The partners hope that a sweeping public awareness campaign will improve participation and treatment rates across communities.

Through the summer, there have been ongoing Mental Health Meet and Greet sessions in the municipalities’ public libraries. Recently, the partnership held an event called Healing in North Hudson, in which each nonprofit and plenty of state agencies gathered as many people and as much information as they could all under one roof, at Guttenberg’s Galaxy Towers mall.

All under one roof

Social workers, mental health practitioners, nonprofits, government agencies, and people looking to learn about the help available to their own community took over the Galaxy Towers mall on July 31.

The lineup included North Hudson Community Action Corporation, P.A.C.O (Puertorriquenos Associados for Community Action), Urban League of Hudson County, NJ Family Care, Hudson SPEAKS, Hudson Pride Center, Weehawken Human Services, the Inter-County Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Gambler’s Anonymous, the state Department of Children and Families, the New Jersey Judiciary, the Hudson County Department of Health and Human Services, and many more.

Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt said he was thrilled that the Galaxy Towers mall served as a venue for the expanding, local network of support.

“The idea came from a few people, including our library director, Sai Rao, and Janet Castro, who runs the North Bergen Health Department, along with Dr. Troy Mack of Weehawken Human Services,” Zitt said. “We all wanted to show people facing a mental health crisis that we’re here, and we’re supporters. This is the first event of its kind, and to see everyone come out like this is incredible. Everyone wants to pitch in and be a part of this.”

For any interested residents who missed out on the event in Guttenberg, there will almost certainly be more mental health awareness events coming to North Hudson, in addition to the community-run Mental Health Meet and Greets, which will continue through the rest of the month.

To meet with local mental health professionals about any questions related to treatment, visit one of the sessions at either Weehawken Public Library at 49 Hauxhurst Ave. on Aug. 21, or the Union City Public Library’s Summit Branch at 1800 Summit Ave. on Aug. 28.

For updates on this and more stories check hudsonreporter.com or follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at mikem@hudsonreporter.com.

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