LONG BRANCH, NJ - Understanding and coping with a family member's mental illness can be painful and challenging, and while these families need information and support, this crucial help can be difficult to find.
The Acute Care Family Support Specialist Program of Monmouth Medical Center's Psychiatric Emergency Screening Service (PESS) has once again been recognized by the State Division of Mental Health Services as one of the very best in New Jersey in providing this key service to families.
In 2007, Monmouth was awarded a grant from the Intensive Family Support Services of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey - a program designed to help families with adult children who have mental illness learn to cope with the situation with the help of family support specialists (FSS). In 2009 and again this year, the NJ Division of Mental Health services visited to review this program and determined that PESS has met and/or exceeded all expectations in terms of successfully implementing this initiative.
In addition, the state Division of Mental Health also recognized PESS this year for best practices in off-site services, the FSS program, which has resulted in decreased emergency room visits.
"These mental health staff members hired specifically to work with families of psychiatric patients in crisis are available to meet with the family in the Emergency Department or out in the community," according to James Romer, clinical director of PESS. "They provide support and educate families throughout the crisis period. The FSS will help family members understand what is entailed in the process of screening the patient and answer any other questions they may have concerning the experience."
Through the program, the FSS also provides follow up for families and is available to present educational programs to family groups in Monmouth County. Representatives of the FSS will be making a statewide presentation for the Division of Mental Health Services on the program's success later this year.
In 2002, Monmouth Medical Center dedicated an expanded PESS - the designated psychiatric screening center for Monmouth County - in the hospital's Cline-D'Onofrio Emergency Services Pavilion. Today, approximately 375 to 400 adults and children are screened each month through PESS.
To learn more about PESS, call 732-923-6999.
March 24, 2011
Director, Public Relations
Saint Barnabas Health Care System Southern Region
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