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May brings not only glorious spring weather but also Mental Health Awareness Month. Unity Place of Monmouth embraces this as an opportunity to provide clients with activities that are enjoyable and also focused on some central issues related to mental health.

Exploring Mental Health Awareness Month’s goal of improving understanding and acceptance of mental health issues, Unity clients will be asked to develop a campaign taking aim at stigma.  The campaign provide facts and data about the prevalence of mental illness and that people of all backgrounds have experienced mental health issues.  Clients will work on the posters during case management sessions, so it will not interfere with their group work.  Program director Lorraine Laura will picking the group that comes up with the best message and imagery.

Early in  May, the facility will get a visit from a collection of four-legged supporters.  Caregiver Companions will be coming to Unity Place the week of May 6, with therapy dogs spending time with those being treated at the facility. This is in addition to the regular visits by therapy dogs that clients see every month.

Mental Health Awareness Month activities will include a yoga, which will be provided by former Unity Place intern Tiffany. She will do two 30 minute sessions with clients. Yoga emphasizes the vital connection between physical and mental health.

Continuing with the theme of health, the third week of May will have clients making their own trail mix snack. The idea here is to facilitate conversations about health living and how one’s diet affects the mood.

There will also be a spelling bee and, closing out the month, a trivia contest in which clients will try to stump Unity Place counselors with questions centering on mental health. This last week of May will focus on clients talking about coping skills and the changes they have made in their mental health.

Unity outreach staff Jamie Paris and Bridget Cowan are to be applauded for coming with a month’s worth of enjoyable and thought-provoking activities that benefit Unity’s clients.


Supporters of addiction and mental health insurance parity needed the patience of Job to see this effort through. Last week, the long-anticipated goal of seeing a law enacted to require health insurers to treat patients with addiction or mental illness equitably became a reality. On April 11, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into a law a measure that will eliminate health insurers’ restrictive practices for limited care for behavioral health patients and ensure accountability through a reporting the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

Unity Place of Monmouth, which provides quality behavioral health care for adults, applauds the resolve of advocates who spent years advancing the reform. The parity law prohibits insurers from imposing higher co-pays and other tighter restrictions on covering care such as care limits and usage reviews.

Also in the law is a requirement for insures to submit an annual report detailing their means of determining medical necessity and other treatment limits for both physical and behavioral health issues. The department is then charged with analyzing the industry reports and producing its own evaluation of whether parity is being achieved. Each May, DOBI must submit its assessment to the Legislature.

Gov. Murphy said the new law bring “peace of mind” to families who have a loved one with a behavioral health problem. One of those families is Valerie Furlong’s. Ms. Furlong and her husband have had to pay out-of-pocket for their sons’ treatment. During the signing ceremony, Ms. Furlong said that she and her husband were fortunate in that they had the means to pay for their sons’ care when their health insurer denied inpatient care. Many other families, Ms. Furlong noted, lack the resources to pay for life-saving treatment.

Parity has been in place at the federal level for more than a decade. Enforcement, however, was left largely to the states. New Jersey, like most states, did a poor job as an insurance watchdog. In fact, New Jersey was among many states earning failing mark from parity advocacy group ParityTrack, which was established by Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman and son of Ted Kennedy who now lives in New Jersey. This new law will greatly improve that rating.

The law will prevent insurers from creating further hardships for families whose loved ones are facing the challenge of substance use or mental illness. The wait for parity may have seemed biblical in length but it has had a happy ending – or perhaps it should be regarded as a happy beginning for behavioral health in our state.


Unity Place of Monmouth clients are really looking forward to lunch these days. That is because they are treated to delicious and creative meals virtually every day since the facility’s new chef, Dena, came on-board last fall.  Dena gives her all to coming up with meals the clients will enjoy and has recently given them a say what will be served.

Dena decided Unity’s clients should have choice in the lunches at least one day a week. Beginning last month, she has been giving Unity clients a choice of their Wednesday lunches.  Among the selections for them to pick from: barbecue brisket or stuffed peppers, tacos or Italian hotdogs, cheese steaks or fried chicken. They really couldn’t go wrong.

Unsurprisingly, Dena’s offerings have met with enthusiasm by most of the clients. She works hard to try “to appease everyone,” and she comes very close to doing so.

She is aware of different religious diets that need to be respected. During Lent, for example, she and her staff have honored the tradition of not eating meat on Fridays. All meals provide balance, with a vegetable and fruit served as side dishes every day.

Dena, who operates a catering business, Dee-Lish in Farmingdale, tops of the main courses with desserts that will delight everyone. For the end-of-the-month party that Unity Place regularly holds, she serves up such dishes as cakes, ice cream Sundays. Even the regular day desserts sound delectable: blueberry cobbler or peach turnover.

With Dena in the kitchen as a complement to Unity Place’s outstanding counseling staff, the clients are having both their spirits and their bodies well nourished.


Unity Place of Monmouth clients will have a new look to go with the new season. Unity dedicated the first day of spring to holding its annual clothing drive, which allows clients of the facility spruce up their wardrobes. It is one of the many ways Unity Place lets the people who are treated at the facility for addiction or mental health  know they are special.

 Unit Place staff and their family and friends donate the clothes. Each year, the drive brings in more and more clothes. The clients come in group by group and pick whatever they want.

 The staff get assistance from Unity’s pre-vocational clients, who worked hard all month separating and folding the clothes. Any unclaimed articles of clothing are bagged up and donated at drop-off locations for Good Will.


Unity Place of Monmouth Partial Care will host a presentation by New Jersey Organizing Project the first week of April. NJOP is a grassroots organization that helps residents of the Shore and South Jersey with some of its most pressing issues, including the many opiate overdoses seen in the region and the barriers to care many people face. It has also helped with people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Sandy. Partnering with groups such as NJOP are in keeping with Unity’s commitment to provide care to people who have an addiction to opiates and to improve the community that we serve.

NJOP members are residents of the community who “connect and train members in the decision-making that affects their lives.” With respect to the opiate crisis, this means stressing the importance of seeking quality care such as what Unity Place provides. Unity Place is known for having the highest standards of treatment, which one sees in its program director and each of its counselors.

NJOP’s Pricilla Robinson stresses the many lives our state has lost to overdose – more than 3,000 a year in recent years. NJOP notes that shore counties are some of the hardest hit by the crisis, making the work Unity does all the more critical. NJOP also works to hold the state accountable for how it is responding to the epidemic levels of overdose. New Jersey’s overdose death rate has continued to climb as others have seen a decline.

The opiate crisis has created a tremendous need for addiction treatment. In its treatment for opiate addiction, Unity provides Medication-Assisted Treatment using suboxone and vivitrol, which ease the cravings for an opiate the addicted person experiences. MAT is used in concert with group and individual counseling that Unity staff provides its clients, with the goal of seeing those individuals return to full and productive lives in recovery.



At Unity, our goal is to provide a therapeutic environment where each client can learn how to successfully handle life’s challenges.

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1075 Stephenson Ave.
Suite C
Oceanport, NJ 07757


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