The rights of all citizens should be protected. This includes the rights of those living with mental illness, and their families. There are a myriad of human and civil rights issues that impact the mental health community including, but not limited to confidentiality, criminal justice, insurance parity, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), seclusion and restraints, and recovery. The American Disabilities Act of 1990 was actually the first piece of legislation that included the issue of discrimination against people with psychological disabilities. In 2003, then Acting Governor Richard Codey's move to create his Task Force on Mental Health was a seminal moment for the hundreds of thousands of individuals living with mental illness in the state of New Jersey. Today, parity is considered to be one of the most significant and pivotal mental health issues being addressed by legislators and advocacy groups.
After years of unwavering dedication, progress is being made. However, it is crucial that focus on legislation and advocacy remains constant. According to the World Health Organization's Mental Health Policy and Service Guidance Package, "Mental health legislation is essential for complementing and reinforcing mental health policy and providing a legal framework for meeting its goals. Such legislation can protect human rights, enhance the quality of mental health services and promote the integration of persons with mental disorders into communities. These goals are an integral part of national mental health policies."
Mental illness is a public health and human rights issue. We stand at the threshold of a new era in mental health and hold in our hands the power to enact historic change. We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and colleagues, and our communities to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and fully recognize the vital role of mental health in all our lives.
N.J. STAT. ANN. § 30:4-27.2(r). "Mental illness" means a current, substantial disturbance of thought, mood, perception or orientation which significantly impairs judgment, capacity to control behavior or capacity to recognize reality, but does not include simple alcohol intoxication, transitory reaction to drug ingestion, organic brain syndrome or developmental disability unless it results in the severity of impairment described herein. The term mental illness is not limited to "psychosis" or "active psychosis," but shall include all conditions that result in the severity of impairment described herein.
N.J. STAT. ANN. § 30:4-27.2(h). "Dangerous to self" means that by reason of mental illness the person has threatened or attempted suicide or serious bodily harm, or has behaved in such a manner as to indicate that the person is unable to satisfy his need for nourishment, essential medical care or shelter, so that it is probable that substantial bodily injury, serious physical debilitation or death will result within the reasonably foreseeable future; however, no person shall be deemed to be unable to satisfy his need for nourishment, essential medical care or shelter if he is able to satisfy such needs with the supervision and assistance of others who are willing and available.
N.J. STAT. ANN. § 30:4-27.2(i) "Dangerous to others or property" means that by reason of mental illness there is a substantial likelihood that the person will inflict serious bodily harm upon another person or cause serious property damage within the reasonably foreseeable future. This determination shall take into account a person's history, recent behavior and any recent act or threat.
* New Jersey does not have an assisted outpatient treatment law.
In the past, people with a mental illness could be hospitalized against their will for virtually no legitimate reason and for indefinite periods of time. Presently, the vast majority of people in psychiatric hospitals are there voluntarily and if not, are usually hospitalized due to a threat or attempt of violence upon themselves or others.
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Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 292-6000
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Phone: (202) 638-0631
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Phone: (973) 639-8700
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Camden, NJ 08101
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Phone: (202) 224-4744
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Informative web site about mental health laws, legislation, and resources