May is "Mental Health Month" and New Jerseyans are being reminded that free help is a phone call away.

(Credit: ThinkStock)
(Credit: ThinkStock)

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey has a call center with a toll-free, confidential helpline that serves as a vital hub for mental health and/or substance use disorder services.

"The helpline has been in existence since 2005, so we're almost a decade old, and it was really created with the vision to have a centralized access point in the state of New Jersey where people could obtain information about any behavioral health concern," said Stephanie Mulfinger, the director of Call Center Services at The Mental Health Association in New Jersey.

The helpline responds to a number of issues, including emotional health problems, drug misuse, stress related to Superstorm Sandy and other disasters and more. There also is a separate toll-free phone number for anyone seeking guidance from a trained mental health peer.

The NJMentalHealthCares Helpline's toll-free phone number is 1-866-202-HELP (4357) (TTY 1-877-294-4356).

"First of all one of the important things about our helpline is that they'll get a behavioral health professional on the other end," Mulfinger said. "So they'll get somebody who's really trained to talk with them about their concerns, what's going on, you know really kind of fully explore it."

From there Mulfinger said trained counselors will put together the best possible plan for those seeking guidance.

"They will get that professional intervention and support and also if needed advocacy to help them navigate the system as well," Mulfinger said.

MHANJ has a database of more than 3,000 behavioral health and social service resources, enabling staff to immediately refer callers to detailed and comprehensive service and support plans. The database also is available to the public through the Helpline website,

The helpline also offers free mental health and substance use disorder and screenings through a new initiative called, "Emotional Health Check-in."

Superstorm Sandy victims still dealing with the stress of housing, employment and other storm-related issues also are encouraged to call the Helpline.

"We are also a central access hub for Sandy-specific behavioral health and other support resources for individuals still struggling with the effects of Sandy," Mulfinger said.

The Peer Recovery WarmLine toll-free phone number is 1-877-292-5588 (TTY 1-877-294-4356). It was launched in 2008 with the goal of providing free, statewide access to mental health support, information and referral from specially trained mental health consumers.

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