Division of Consumer Affairs Announce Actions to Expand Access to Mental Health, Substance Abuse Services During COVID-19 Pandemic – Measures Aimed at Expanding New Jersey’s Mental Health Workforce and Improving Access to Substance Abuse Treatment and Counseling

NEWARK –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced new measures to promote access to mental health and substance use disorder services and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a new program to make it easier for recent graduates of social work and counseling programs to start practicing.

In a series of recent actions, the Division took steps to expand New Jersey’s mental health workforce and access to treatment by:

  • creating a program to grant temporary emergency licenses to individuals who recently graduated with a master’s degree or doctorate in social work or counseling but who have not yet been able to take and pass their licensing exams due to the COVID-19 emergency;
  • granting psychologists practicing under supervision a 1-year extension of their permits, allowing them to continue to practice;
  • creating a new pathway for alcohol and drug counselor-interns to provide telehealth and telemedicine services by obtaining a temporary certification; and
  • permanently granting advanced practical nurses more autonomy to treat individuals with substance use disorders through maintenance and detoxification treatment.

The emergency programs announced today are just the latest temporary licensure and certification programs launched by the Division to strengthen New Jersey’s healthcare workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to facilitate recent graduates’ entry into the work force despite their inability to take licensing examinations due to the pandemic. Prior programs focused on increasing the number of doctors, nurses, respiratory care specialists and other medical professionals needed to fight the COVID-19 virus.

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