Middlesex Mental Health Administrator Wins Award

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — Penny Grande, the Mental Health Administrator for Middlesex County, is among the recipients of the 2013 Golden Bell Leadership Award, presented by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. Grande was recognized for quick action and dedicated oversight in time of crisis during Superstorm Sandy and for the leadership role she plays in long-term recovery efforts since the disaster.

“Mental Health Administrators play a key role during times of crisis in New Jersey. Their quick action and dedicated oversight during and following Superstorm Sandy were and are still invaluable in efforts to care for those who have mental health challenges and people who are facing emotional distress as a result of the disaster,” said Carolyn Beauchamp, MHANJ’s President and CEO.

“As Middlesex County residents and business owners continue to rebuild homes and recover property, they also can seek mental health and emotional support services with confidence,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Chair of the Community Services Committee. “I applaud the achievements of Ms. Grande and her team of dedicated volunteer disaster response crisis counselors for this achievement and for their commitment to the wellbeing of our residents.”

In a disaster such as Superstorm Sandy, the main responsibility of New Jersey County Mental Health Administrators is to coordinate the behavioral health response to those individuals that are affected by the disaster by working in collaboration with community partners.

“Since the days leading up to the storm, Mental Health Administrators organized and deployed hundreds of Disaster Response Crisis Counselors (DRCCs), many of whom addressed needs within shelters. Mental Health Administrators have also been working very closely and diligently with providers of mental health and social services to assure that residents receive the emotional support they need while also assuring continuity of care to existing consumers of mental health services. Currently the Mental Health Administrators are engaged in long term recovery efforts in their communities,” stated Tracey Maksel, President of the New Jersey Association of County Mental Health Administrators and the Mental Health Administrator for the County of Ocean. “Sandy has redefined the lens in which we embrace our professional and personal roles in our community. The Mental Health Administrators are only as strong as the teams we have supporting us. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we do without the dedication of our staff, our volunteers, our county administrators and community stakeholders.”

“Our residents deserve services that allow them to rebuild their lives,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “With qualified and dedicated leadership, we’ll continue to deliver such programs during our ongoing recovery efforts.”

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) will also honor: Sally Williams from Atlantic County, Michele Hart-Loughlin from Bergen County, Patricia Devaney from Cape May County, Joseph Scarpelli, D.C., from Essex County, Robin James from Hudson County, Barry W. Johnson from Monmouth County, Tracy Maksel from Ocean County, Pam Mastro from Somerset County, and Katie Regan from Union County. They will be recognized at the organization’s Evening of Excellence on Tuesday, June 18, at the Crystal Point Yacht Club in Point Pleasant.

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