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Programs help prepare consumers for community living
  TRENTON - Self-help centers offering peer support to prepare patients for their discharge and more independent lives open this week on the grounds of two state psychiatric hospitals.
 
 
The unique on-grounds centers, which link current patients with consumers who are successfully living in the community already, opened at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital (GPH) in Parsippany and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital (TPH) (today and tomorrow, respectively).

The centers will provide peer support for patients’ recovery and help connect them to a variety of community, wellness and employment services they can use when they pursue recovery outside of the hospital.

Janet Monroe and Teresa McQuaide, the CEOs at GPH and TPH, said their staffs and consumers are eager to implement the unique center model that was piloted in 2008 at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital, making the Winslow hospital one of the first in the nation to operate a self-help center on its grounds. About 30 similar self-help centers are in operation in communities throughout the state, but are provider-run.

“The self-help movement in New Jersey is one of the strongest in the nation,” said Deputy Commissioner Kevin Martone, who also serves as president of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.  “We are setting new standards across the country,” he said, adding that he gets inquiries about New Jersey’s programs every time he speaks to his counterparts from around the nation.

 “Our consumer counselors ‘get it’; they’ve made the transition from hospital to community,” Martone said, referring to the people from self-help centers who will be staffing the centers, “and they serve as models for patients and staff that community integration is achievable.”

The centers, filled with tables, literature, couches and computers, are in keeping with the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ transformation of the statewide mental health system into one that delivers active treatment and is geared toward wellness, recovery, and community integration.

“This is an evidence-based program that stresses the application of empowerment tools, access to peer support and all the advances that can help consumers realize a richer, more meaningful life,” Martone said.

Ancora CEO Allan Boyer noted that collaboration among government, community, consumers and stakeholders has made the center there successful.

“Hundreds of Ancora’s patients have taken advantage of the services of our Self-Help Center to assist them in their progress toward independence and self-reliance,” Boyer said. “We have found this to be a great model to help patients with community reintegration and the feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The Woody Guthrie Self Help Center at Greystone will be located in one of the cottages on ground and the center at TPH will be connected to the Stratton building. Services will be provided by representatives of community self-help centers and Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, Inc. (CSPNJ), which received $230,334 in FY2011 for start-up and operation costs.

 
 
 
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