New Jersey Attorney Gen. Grewal expands access to mental health services during pandemic

New Jersey Attorney Gen. Grewal expands access to mental health services during pandemic

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Wednesday that he would implement new measures to promote access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working with the Division of Consumer Affairs, Grewal said he had taken several administrative actions to expand New Jersey’s mental health workforce and to increase access to treatment.

The actions include:
• Creating a program to grant recent graduates from master’s or doctorate’s program in social work or counseling with temporary emergency licenses;
• Granting psychologists practicing under supervision a 1-year extension of their permits;
• Allowing drug and alcohol counselor-interns to obtain temporary certification to provide telehealth and telemedicine services; and
• Permanently granting advanced practical nurses more autonomy to treat individuals with substance use disorder through maintenance and detoxification treatment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic not only threatens our physical health but also increases risks to mental health,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The actions announced today will help ensure that New Jersey has a robust mental health and addiction workforce capable of delivering the services that our residents need during these difficult times.”

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention found that between 31.1 percent and 39.6 percent of New Jersey residents reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder during a period from April through June.

“The mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the profound impact it has had on so many of us, including our healthcare workforce, could far outlast the virus itself, so addressing this crisis within a crisis is paramount to the well-being of every New Jerseyan,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Responding to the mental health harm done by the COVID-19 crisis is every bit as important as protecting physical health, and we thank all healthcare professionals for their service during this difficult time.”