Community Agency Expands Offerings to Meet Growing Need for Support

May 26, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has shed new light on the importance of mental health resources in the Mercer County community. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States experience a mental health condition each year. In addition to those who are managing ongoing mental health conditions, the pandemic has provoked challenging emotions for the broader population including heightened anxiety, stress, sadness, and isolation.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) is a non-profit, comprehensive social service agency that focuses on help, hope and healing in the Greater Mercer region. The agency serves those of all ages, backgrounds and faiths with mental health counseling, senior services, and a range of food distribution programs faiths.

The JFCS counseling department accepts clients with private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured individuals. The agency also is one of the few options in Mercer County which provides bilingual services in Spanish.

As social distancing guidelines were rolled out in the state of New Jersey, JFCS pivoted to teletherapy for counseling services. Through the use of technology and adapted procedures, all agency services have continued during this shut down.

“The transition was seamless for our existing clients,” says Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC, JFCS Director of Clinical Services. “Our clients were easily able to continue their support from the safety of their homes. Through technology we can be there for our clients through the fear and isolation; we were even able to help a client while they were hospitalized with COVID.”

The counseling department is accepting new clients and completes intakes and initial assessments via phone and video calls. The agency offers consultations with a psychiatrist for clients with Medicare, Medicaid or who are uninsured. The consulting psychiatrist has also continued his services for existing clients by providing medication management by phone.

JFCS expanded mental health support, through the funding support of Princeton Area Community Foundation, to include weekly webinars free to the community and “Drop-In” hours by phone.

Drop-In hours allow callers the opportunity to connect one-on-one with a counselor for a 30-minute session to help address stress, anxiety, fear or other concerns that have become escalated due to the pandemic. Drop-In Hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 AM – 12 PM and Tuesdays and Thursday 5 – 7 PM. Callers can reach a counselor at 609-987-8100 and Dial 0 to be connected.

For more information about program offerings, visit the JFCS website or call at 609-987-8100 Mon-Thurs 9 AM – 5 PM and Fridays 9 AM – 4 PM.