Frank from Little Egg Harbor needs help. Since moving to New Jersey two years ago, he's received hardly any.

"They sent me to a therapist and all I got was half an hour every two weeks. I am stuck."

Cathy from Toms River wants to speak one on one with a professional about her issues, as soon as possible, but that's not happening.

"I was put on a waiting list for over eight months."

An hour-long town hall event on New Jersey's mental health crisis uncovered several residents, both on air and online, who've been crying out for help but can't get the right people to listen.

Both Frank and Cathy, who called in during Wednesday night's program, happen to be on state insurance.

There is a lack of publicly funded mental health services in the Garden State, according to Phil Lubitz, associate director of National Alliance on Mental Illness New Jersey, who participated on the town hall panel.

Phil Lubitz, NAMI New Jersey
Phil Lubitz, associate director, NAMI New Jersey (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

"The demand clearly outstrips the available services, so it's not unusual to hear about a long wait for a therapy appointment, even long waits in a hospital emergency room, waiting for a psychiatric bed once you've been deemed in need of that bed," Lubitz said.

But, Lubitz said, one does not need to be insured in order to secure mental health care in New Jersey.

"You're eligible for a community mental health center in New Jersey and the variety of mental health programs that we have in the state," he said.

Advocates in the industry, meanwhile, hope the state Legislature is willing to fund an expansion of the relatively new Early Crisis Intervention Support Services offered in 11 counties. The centers provide short term mental health service for adults experiencing significant emotional or psychiatric distress and who are in need of immediate intervention.

New Jersey 101.5 mental health series:

Mental Health in New Jersey, Town Hall 5/16/18:

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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