Advancing Behavioral Health Care in New Jersey

When Joe Masciandaro (pictured at right) was starting out in the mental health field, effective medication or treatment for mental illness didn’t exist. It was 1963 and little was known about behavioral health care. Over time, Joe helped move the field forward – especially through his 42 years of leading Care Plus NJ, a Certified Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) and innovator in integrated primary and behavioral health services. We are proud to recognize Joe as the newest recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations! What does this award mean to you?

“This award is a heartfelt validation of many years of work and commitment to helping people with serious mental illness, as well as the collective achievements of all those professionals who’ve worked with me over the years. Receiving a national recognition from my peers is very meaningful.”

How is Care Plus NJ helping people with mental health and addiction issues thrive?

“Care Plus NJ helps people thrive by recognizing that their healing goes far beyond treating their medical conditions and includes engaging people in purposeful activities, such as employment, education and volunteering. The combination of these factors is what improves their overall quality of life. To achieve this at Care Plus NJ, we honor the four pillars of behavioral health: primary medical services, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and access to social supports and services.”

How has being a CCBHC enabled you to strengthen your community?

“The CCBHC model has allowed us to stay true to our mission of providing the most comprehensive care, in the least restrictive environment, regardless of ability to pay. It has provided essential resources and a highly specialized focus on populations in need, for whom services are often sparse or unavailable. While this has been the approach to Care Plus NJ for decades, the prospective payment system makes the business of evidence-based practices and data-driven outcomes financially feasible and sustainable.”

How has the National Council helped you make a mark?

“It has always been important to me that our staff engage in all levels of advocacy. The National Council has certainly played an essential role in coordinating public policy discussion, legislative action and technical training, enabling us to achieve the successes we have had. We are proud to be a part of this historic moment in behavioral health, and we value the leadership of the National Council.”

What are some secrets to your success as a behavioral health care provider?

“As the birthplace of the first New Jersey chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Care Plus NJ has always placed a high value on family involvement and peer support. These components enhance the experience for the individual and are a major influence in successful treatment and rehabilitation.”

Care Plus NJ is a nonprofit that offers comprehensive, recovery-focused integrated primary and mental health care for individuals in the Northern New Jersey. With more than 72 programs, Care Plus NJ provides vital treatment and support to children, families and adults coping with mental illness, addiction and social injustices. Learn more.

Guest Author

Nicholas Addison Thomas
Director of Content Marketing
National Council for Mental Wellbeing