Middlesex County hosts Behavioral Health Roundtable Discussion and Workshop to exchange best practices on behavioral health challenges impacting schools, workplaces, and everyday life

Middlesex County hosts Behavioral Health Roundtable Discussion and Workshop to exchange best practices on behavioral health challenges impacting schools, workplaces, and everyday life



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MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners hosted a robust and honest conversation about mental health at the Behavioral Health Roundtable event on Tuesday, May 16 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Middlesex County and their key partners recognized the need to reinforce and support behavioral health services as a crucial component of support for residents and discussed best practices on how to face behavioral health challenges impacting schools, the workplace, and everyday life. A link to a recording of the event can be found here.

These challenges include bullying, loneliness and isolation, influence of social media, stigma, gun violence, micro-aggressions, depression, substance use disorders, anxiety and more.

New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy, Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios, New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman, and New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, served as guest speakers.


Center for Healthcare Strategies’ Christopher Menschner served as moderator and panelists included: Commissioner Adelman; Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin; Robert. C. Garrett, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, Hackensack Meridian Health; Frank A. Ghinassi, PhD, ABPP, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health and Addictions Service Line for RWJBarnabas Health and President and Chief Executive Officer of Rutgers Health University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC); Leslie D. Hirsch, FACHE, President and CEO, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System; Yolanda Ciccone, Middlesex County Prosecutor; Hon. Michael A. Toto, Assignment Judge, Middlesex County Superior Court; County Commissioner Claribel A. Azcona-Barber, Chair of the County’s Community Services Committee; Mayor James M. Cahill, City of New Brunswick; Mayor John McCormac, Township of Woodbridge; Mark J. Finkelstein, Superintendent of Schools, Educational Services Commission of New Jersey; Jorge E. Diaz, Superintendent, Middlesex County Magnet Schools; Mark McCormick, JD, EdD, Middlesex College; John A. Pulomena, Middlesex County Administrator; and Meghan Davey, Department Head, Community Services, Middlesex County.


“We as a nation are facing an unprecedented behavioral health crisis. It is a crisis that knows no bounds. Already this year, we have seen a number of terrible incidents across the country and close to home: students taking their own lives, adults taking their own lives, and almost daily mass shootings,” said Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios. “This Behavioral Health Roundtable event is the first step on what is sure to be a long journey, but one that I believe can lead to success – if only we work together. Ultimately, we are committed to providing more support to our Department of Community Services, and to all those in our community who do tremendous work in this field every day.”


“We have seen the numerous ways mental health impacts the overall health of our vibrant community. While the behavioral health crisis existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in challenges since the pandemic,” said County Commissioner Claribel Azcona-Barber. “The behavioral health crisis impacts so many families and individuals, so I’m proud our County and key partners are taking the initiative and looking for ways to help by providing a space for honest dialogue. I hope to have many more of these discussions to further understand and share information about the mental health challenges of our community.”

“Mental health is an issue I care deeply about, especially now when so many people throughout our nation are struggling with mental health challenges. That’s why I have made youth mental health the main focus of my work as the Chair of the National Governors Association and why my Administration continuously strives to meet the mental health needs of New Jersey residents,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I commend every individual and organization working to address the mental health crisis in our state for their efforts to help heal our children, our families, and our communities as a whole. I remain committed to supporting and working alongside our dedicated partners in these ongoing efforts.”


In addition to featured remarks from officials in healthcare, education, and government, this event provided attendees an opportunity to meet and discuss best practices for combating behavioral health challenges with three workshop sessions focused on behavioral health services for youth and young adults; substance use prevention and recovery; and mental health and community wellness. For more information about the event, please visit www.middlesexcountynj.gov/behavioralhealth.






Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 19 park systems, and world-class healthcare and research facilities making it one of the nation’s most dynamic regions and a leader in technology, transportation, the arts, and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to over 860,000 residents living throughout 25 municipalities. The County’s award-winning Middlesex County Magnet Schools system and two-year Middlesex College uphold its position as #1 in the state for best schools, offering secondary and postsecondary education and workforce development programs that create a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Conveniently located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County is a leading destination for businesses and residents alike to live, work, and play – and has been since the 17th century. For more information, visit middlesexcountynj.gov and find us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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