BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater could one day adopt a social program that would address mental health in the community.
Bridgewater council vice president Matthew Moench spoke to his colleagues at a recent council meeting about On P.O.I.N.T. (Proactive Outreach in Needs and Treatment), which got its start in Stafford Township in Ocean County.
“It’s for people who are in need of help,” he said.
According to a release, On P.O.I.N.T. was developed to address the high volume of mental health, substance abuse and social service-related calls and incidents that use considerable police and emergency time and resources.
The program utilizes police officers who would identify troubled individuals, and then refer them to social workers for assistance. It would be paid for by grants or private investment, and could also be used to help repeat offenders.
"It helps them to get assistance," Moench added.
On P.O.I.N.T. helps in providing early intervention to individuals who might otherwise engage in criminal activity, or consumers of acute and emergency services, by utilizing police-initiated social work intervention to create a new community culture of health and well-being.
Individuals are free to refuse the aid offered, although guns were recently removed from one home due to mental health issues, according to Moench of local police.
Moench added that the program has won awards, and said he would like the council to meet with its organizers.
“It’s the kind of program that’s innovative, and doesn’t cost the taxpayers,” he said.
On P.O.I.N.T. was recognized last year by the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma and the Mental Health Awareness Committee of Ocean County.
"Innovative programs like Stafford’s On P.O.I.N.T. program may help reach those residents in need before they find themselves in greater trouble with the law or act out in a destructive and dangerous way," said Moench. "This program is so successful that Congressman MacArthur has recently called upon the Federal Government to implement On P.O.I.N.T. as a national model."