Public Notices and Press Releases

May 2024 Declared Mental Health Awareness Month

(l-r) Laurie Becker, Linda Csengeto, MHASAB Member, Anna Marie Hess, Morris County HSAC Coordinator, Rosalyn Suarez, Addictions Coordinator, Amy Archer, Director of Division Director, Community and Behavioral Health Services & Mental Health Administrator, Chris Chernick, Chair of MHASAB, Julian Hill, Vice-Chair of MHASAB and Assistant Morris County Prosecutor, Commissioner Director Christine Myers, Commissioner Deputy Director Stephen Shaw, Commissioners Douglas Cabana, Tayfun Selen and John Krickus.

Commissioners Recognize a Dedicated MHASAB Member in Morris County

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners declared the month of May 2024 Mental Health Awareness Month and presented a framed proclamation and certificate of honor in memory of a dedicated community member at last week’s board meeting.

Since 1949, May has been dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the stigma around mental health. Unfortunately, that stigma can prevent people from discussing mental health issues which may delay treatment or worsen the problem of those in crisis,” said Commissioner Director Christine Myers, liaison to the Morris County Human Services Department. “This month we honor those who provide essential mental health services including our hospitals, health care systems, nonprofit partners and our county employees from the Office of Health and Human Services and the Division of Behavioral Health Services.”

Barbara Ward, a long-time appointed member of the Mental Health Addictions Services Advisory Board (MHASAB) who passed away on April 12, was recognized with a certificate of honor. Ward served for more than 15 years on the board including two terms as chair. She was known for her extensive volunteer work, including her commitment to ensuring that continuous and affordable care was available to Morris County residents suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse.

Her advocacy and dedication to increasing fundraising and awareness for mental health support entities have made a lasting impact on the services we have in Morris County,” said Myers.

In addition to her work with MHASAB, Ward also advocated for abused and neglected children through Morris and Sussex County Court Appointed Special Advocates and volunteered with the Alumni Association of the Morris County Drug Court.

Barbara was a devoted and committed public servant,” said Julian Hill, Vice Chair of MHASAB, who worked with Ward. “I observed her contributions in the courthouse and on the recovery court special probation team. She was dedicated and compassionate, and beyond an asset for Morris County. She will be greatly missed.”

Barbara was not only an amazing support for MHASAB, but she was also a friend,” said retired Director of the Division of Community and Behavioral Health Services, Laurie Becker. “She was always concerned about others, even in her own time of need. I think I speak for everyone when I say that no one could believe she was 86 years old. One example of her boundless energy and enthusiasm in helping the community is that even when she was deep into managing a key volunteer project that she was very excited about, she was already planning the next one.”

MHASAB is currently in the process of coordinating an education and awareness campaign for Mental Health Awareness month. A comprehensive list of county and state programs, helplines and other resources for teens and adults will be distributed to the public through local outreach later this month.

I thank the commissioners for the funding they give to distribute to the worthy entities that provide services to the Morris County residents that need them. It is extremely important to recognize the importance of mental health in the community and the support needed for it,” said Chris Chernick, Chair of MHASAB.

The group took a brief break for photos in the Public Meeting Room before the regular work session resumed.

MHASAB’s mission is to ensure that a full continuum of care is available, accessible and affordable to address the shared and specific mental health and substance abuse prevention, education and treatment needs of Morris County residents. The committee meets on the second Thursday of the month at 5:15 p.m. at the Division of Community & Behavioral Health Services (Morris County Non-Profit Mall), 1 Medical Drive in Morris Plains.

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