Former Gov. Chris Christie had moved the operations into the DOH and Murphy’s plan will reverse that action.
“The DMHAS transfer will reverse a decision made in the waning months of the Christie administration that was rushed through with minimal input and engagement,” Murphy said in a statement. “Repositioning the division is the correct decision for all concerned. This administration is fully committed to ensuring that government delivers programs and services to our residents in the most effective and efficient manner possible. That means restoring DMHAS at the Department of Human Services, so that we put mental health and substance use disorder services back where they belong and under the same roof as Medicaid and social services.”
Said DHS Commissioner Carole Johnson: “I am delighted that the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services will be returning home to the Department of Human Services, where it will once again be in the same place as Medicaid and the social services programs that are critical to supporting individuals in need and their families. I also look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Health to make it easier for residents to receive the services they need and modernize our system of care in our state. Exceptional mental health and substance use disorder treatment for New Jersey is our priority.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said DOH, “will continue its work to create an integrated licensing system for mental health, substance abuse and primary care. We are also committed to our plan to modernize and improve the quality of care in our state psychiatric hospitals and that progress will continue.”
He added: “As our recent Population Health opioid summit demonstrated, we have integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment into all that we do. We will continue to work hand in hand with the Department of Human Services and other agencies across the state to combat the opioid and mental health challenges in New Jersey."
DMHAS manages community-based mental health and addiction services.
“For the current time, the [state’s] psychiatric hospitals will remain in DOH,” officials said. “The Department has begun to undertake rigorous improvement efforts at the state’s psychiatric institutions, and a more detailed action plan for these improvements will be made public at a later date.”