The Work First New Jersey Behavioral Health Initiative is based on the former Work First New Jersey Mental Health Initiative (MHI) that was available in seven counties in NJ (Atlantic, Camden, Mercer, Union, Essex, Hudson and Passaic). The MHI was not an NCADD-NJ program.
At the direction of DFD, NCADD-NJ developed the BHI in the same seven counties and NCADD-NJ began receiving referrals of welfare clients with mental health issues on April 1, 2009. The care coordinators who perform the mental health assessments are called Mental Health Care Coordinators (MHCC) and are either Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) or are masters-level clinicians who have worked in mental health agencies and working toward one of the above-mentioned licenses. The MHCCs will assess mental health clients for both mental health and substance abuse issues.
The services provided under the BHI are mostly the same as those provided in the SAI with the following differences:
· All BHI clients will also have an assessment of their ‘immediate need’ for residential psychiatric care at the beginning of the assessment.
· The MHCCs will not diagnose, but rather form a ‘diagnostic impression” of the client and will forward an assessment summary to MH providers when making referrals.
· The MHCCs will refer clients with substance abuse and less serious mental health issues (co-occurring) to treatment in SAI Network Provider Programs capable of providing the needed co-occurring care.
· MHCCs will refer clients with serious and persistent mental illness to mental health agencies (MH) licensed by the NJ Division of Mental Health Services.
· The MH agencies will provide psychiatric evaluations and medication monitoring as well as partial care and outpatient services to clients referred depending on the client’s need.
· MHCCs will not pre-approve service units and will not authorize payment for services for clients referred to treatment at mental health agencies that are not part of the SAI Provider Network. The MH agencies will obtain payment by billing Medicaid directly.
· The MHCCs will contact the MH providers to obtain monthly updates on the client’s progress.
· The MHCCs will contact the MH providers to obtain written or verbal client attendance in treatment.
· The MHCCs will schedule follow-up appointments with clients to reassess their needs when an MH Provider does not cooperate with providing attendance or giving a progress update and will refer the client to another treatment program that does.
· When there is no response from either the MH provider or the client, the MHCC will close the client’s BHI case and refer the client back to welfare. Only employable MH clients will be subject to sanction.
· The MHCCs will refer clients to welfare to assist the client with an application for SSI benefits when the client has had a deferral due to mental illness for more than twelve months.
It is expected that the BHI will receive up to 900 clients per year for mental health assessments.