ASSEMBLY, No. 1847

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2020 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  BRITNEE N. TIMBERLAKE

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)

Assemblywoman  SHANIQUE SPEIGHT

District 29 (Essex)

Assemblyman  ANTHONY S. VERRELLI

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires Commissioner of Human Services to establish 24-hour, toll-free Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline and develop hotline connection system to ensure that callers are connected to other appropriate hotlines when needed.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning the establishment of a Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline, and the connection of callers to other appropriate State-run hotlines, and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.   The Commissioner of Human Services, in consultation with the Commissioners of Health, Community Affairs, and Children and Families, shall establish and maintain, on a 24 hour a day basis, a toll-free Mental Illness Crisis Resource telephone hotline service. The hotline service shall receive and respond to calls from persons who are undergoing, or who are seeking help for a person who is undergoing, a crisis or emergency situation resulting from mental illness.  Hotline staff shall provide emergency counseling to callers, in an effort to stabilize the crisis or emergency situation, and shall promptly connect callers to other appropriate State and local resources that can be used to immediately address and eliminate the crisis or emergency situation.  To the extent practicable, callers shall be connected with resources that are available in the same county or region of the State in which the crisis or emergency situation is occurring.

     b.    The Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline, established pursuant to this section, shall be staffed by licensed professional counselors, psychologists, psychoanalysts, and social workers who have particular experience in mental health crisis intervention, including experience in communicating with persons in mental health crisis, and their families, and who have particular training and knowledge in the institutional and community-based resources that are available throughout the State to assist persons who are undergoing a mental health crisis, and their families.  The commissioner shall ensure that the hotline is staffed by persons with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and includes persons who speak both English and Spanish.  The commissioner shall further ensure that the hotline either employs or contracts with translators and bi- or multi-lingual health care professionals who can be made available to assist callers, upon request, or when needed.

     c.     Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1991, c.524 (C.30:1-1.1), and any other law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, the crisis hotline established pursuant to this section shall be operated separately and apart from the social services information hotline established pursuant to subsection a. of section 1 of P.L.1991, c.524 (C.30:1-1.1), the mental health and developmental disabilities services hotline established pursuant to subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1991, c.524 (C.30:1-1.1), and any community-based suicide hotlines established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1985, c.195 (C.30:9A-13). 

     d.    (1)     The commissioner shall engage in a public awareness campaign, using all available media, including television, radio, print, the Internet, and social media, to inform the public about the availability and purpose of the Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline. 

     (2)   The public awareness campaign developed under this subsection shall include a component that is specifically designed to inform children and young adults in elementary school, high school, and institutions of higher education about the availability of the hotline.  Posters, signs, and other promotional materials used in this component of the public awareness campaign shall employ the use of language that is understandable by, and appropriate to, children and young adults.

     (3)   Any promotional materials that are used in the public awareness campaign shall be made available in both English and Spanish. 

     e.     The Departments of Human Services, Health, Children and Families, Community Affairs, Education, and Law and Public Safety shall each prominently display the phone number for the Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline on the departments’ respective Internet websites.

     f.     As used in this section:

     “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Human Services.

     “Health care professional” means a physician, nurse, or other individual who is licensed by the State to provide health care in the ordinary course of business or the practice of a profession.

     “Professional counselor” means an individual who is licensed as a professional counselor, pursuant to P.L.1993, c.340 (C.45:8B-34 et seq.), and whose license remains in good standing.

     “Psychologist” means an individual who is licensed as a practicing psychologist, pursuant to P.L.1966, c.282 (C.45:14B-1 et seq.), and whose license remains in good standing.

     “Psychoanalyst” means an individual who is certified as a psychoanalyst, pursuant to P.L.2000, c.57 (C.45:14BB-1 et seq.), and whose certification remains in good standing. 

     “Social worker” means an individual who is certified as a social worker or licensed as a clinical social worker, pursuant to P.L.1991, c.134 (C.45:15BB-1 et seq.), and whose license or certification remains in good standing.

     “Mental illness” means the same as that term is defined by section 2 of P.L.1987, c.116 (C.30:4-27.2). 

 

     2.    a.   The Commissioner of Human Services, in consultation and coordination with the Commissioner of Health, shall develop a system that requires and enables the staff of any health or human services-related hotline in the State, including, but not limited to, the social services information hotline established pursuant to subsection a. of section 1 of P.L.1991, c.524 (C.30:1-1.1), the mental health and developmental disabilities services hotline established pursuant to subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1991, c.524 (C.30:1-1.1), the Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline established pursuant to section 1 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the community-based suicide hotlines established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1985, c.195 (C.30:9A-13), and the NJ 2-1-1 hotline, to immediately connect callers to other appropriate State or federal hotlines, as needed to address the callers’ stated needs and issues.  The hotline connection system designed pursuant to this section shall ensure, to the greatest extent practicable, that whenever a person calls a health or human services-related hotline in the State that is inappropriate to their needs, the hotline staff will immediately and directly transfer the caller to another appropriate hotline, without ending the call. 

     b.    The Commissioner of Human Services, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), as may be necessary to implement the hotline connection system required by this section.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would require the Commissioner of Human Services, in consultation with the Commissioners of Health, Community Affairs, and Children and Families, to establish and maintain, on a 24 hour a day basis, a toll-free Mental Illness Crisis Resource telephone hotline service.  The hotline would be operated separately and apart from the State’s existing social services information hotline, the State’s existing mental health and developmental disabilities services hotline, and any community-based suicide hotlines.

     The Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline would be used to receive and respond to calls from persons who are undergoing, or who are seeking help for a person who is undergoing, a crisis or emergency situation resulting from mental illness.  Hotline staff would be required to provide emergency counseling to callers, in an effort to stabilize the crisis or emergency situation, and would additionally be required to promptly connect callers to other appropriate State and local resources that can be used to immediately address and eliminate the crisis or emergency situation.  To the extent practicable, callers are to be connected with resources that are available in the same county or region of the State in which the crisis or emergency situation is occurring.

     The bill would require the Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline to be staffed by licensed or certified professional counselors, psychologists, psychoanalysts, and social workers who have particular experience in mental health crisis intervention, including experience in communicating with persons in mental health crisis, and their families, and who have particular training and knowledge in the institutional and community-based resources that are available throughout the State to assist persons who are undergoing a mental health crisis, and their families.  The hotline is to be staffed by persons with diverse ethnic backgrounds, including persons who speak both English and Spanish.  The commissioner will also be required to ensure that the hotline either employs or contracts with translators and bi- or multi-lingual health care professionals who can be made available to assist callers, upon request, or when needed.

     The commissioner will be required to engage in a public awareness campaign, using all available media, to inform the public about the availability and purpose of the Mental Illness Crisis Resource Hotline.  The campaign is to include a component that is specifically designed to inform children and young adults in elementary school, high school, and institutions of higher education about the availability of the hotline.  Posters, signs, and other promotional materials used in this component of the public awareness campaign are to employ the use of language that is understandable by, and appropriate to, children and young adults.  Any promotional materials used in the public awareness campaign are to be made available in both English and Spanish. 

     The bill would require the Departments of Human Services, Health, Children and Families, Community Affairs, Education, and Law and Public Safety to each prominently display the phone number for the Mental Illness Resource Hotline on the departments’ respective Internet websites.

     The bill would additionally require the Commissioner of Human Services, in consultation and coordination with the Commissioner of Health, to develop a system that requires and enables the staff of any health or human services-related hotline in the State (including the Mental Illness Resource Hotline established under the bill) to immediately connect callers to other appropriate State or federal hotlines, as needed to address the callers’ stated needs and issues.  The hotline connection system is to ensure, to the greatest extent practicable, that whenever a person calls a health or human services-related hotline in the State that is inappropriate to their needs, the hotline staff will immediately and directly transfer the caller to another appropriate hotline, without ending the call.  The establishment of this type of hotline connection system will prevent instances where a person seeking help is denied assistance because the hotline is not appropriate for the person’s needs.