August 22, 2006
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
UMDNJ Offers Two Helplines for Teachers,
and Their Families
- A Back-to-School Update for N.J.;
New Helpline Launched
for La. And Miss. -
PISCATAWAY — Less than one year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has launched a confidential, 24-hour helpline (1-866-RING-NEA), which was modeled after an existing helpline for teachers and school personnel in New Jersey.
Teachers and school personnel who are having personal or professional challenges can get assistance by calling one of two confidential helplines that were established by the UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare in partnership with the National Education Association and the New Jersey Education Association.
Located at UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare, the toll-free Aid in Distress - New Jersey Education Association helpline and support system (1-866-AID-NJEA, or 1-866-243-6532), is available for NJEA members including teachers, teacher aides, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria personnel, secretaries and their families. Their counterparts in Louisiana and Mississippi should call 1-866-RING-NEA (1-866-746-4632) for assistance.
To date, the calls to 1-866-AID-NJEA have been from individuals in New Jersey who are experiencing financial, psychological, family, job-related, legal, stress-related, or substance abuse problems.
On weekdays, between noon and 8 p.m., retired and active educators who are trained to counsel and support their colleagues will provide information, referrals, guidance, crisis management and counseling services to callers in New Jersey. Similarly, between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. (CST), educators in New Jersey will answer calls that are routed from Louisiana and Mississippi. At other times of the day, mental health staff of the Access Center at UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare will answer calls, handle emergencies, and make referrals.
“When this service was launched almost four years ago, we were prepared to cover a wide-range of concerns that affected New Jersey’s school personnel ,” said Karen Marcus, director of the Access Center at UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare. “Now that we have expanded our reach, we want the teachers and school personnel in Louisiana and Mississippi to know they are not alone.”
On-call, crisis-intervention teams work with school districts that have experienced catastrophic events like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
More than 2,000 calls were placed to 1-866-AID-NJEA between July 2005 and June 2006. Phone calls generally range from five to forty five minutes. Education support specialists listen to concerns, help brainstorm, identify resolutions to problems and provide information and referrals. Since it was established almost four years ago, the AID NJEA helpline receives between 200 and 300 calls each month.
“If you’re asking yourself, ‘Should I call’ then you probably should. No matter what stress you are experiencing, talking with an understanding person who is trained to offer assistance can help,” said Robert Bonazzi, executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, which has 196,000 members. “The staff at UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare serves as a solid resource for many families in diverse communities.”
In addition to 1-866-AID-NJEA and 1-866-RING-NEA, UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare offers several other toll-free helplines for veterans, police officers, fire and emergency medical services professionals.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.