Press ReleaseDate: 05-25-10
Name: Zenaida Mendez Phone: (973) 972-7273
UMDNJ-UBHC's Cop 2 Cop Program Receives N.J. Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma 2010 Ambassador Award
Cop 2 Cop Director Cherie Castellano and retired police lieutenants Shelia Hobson and Pat Ciccone, who are now Cop 2 Cop's mental health specialist and healthcare provider, respectively, accepted the 2010 Ambassador Award on May 18 at the New Jersey Forensic Science Technology Center in Hamilton.
For nearly a decade now, retired law enforcement officers and clinicians with a deep understanding of cops' concerns, problems and family have staffed the Cop 2 Cop confidential helpline, connecting � statewide, with their active peers � to encourage resiliency, combat stigma and prevent suicide. The Piscataway-based program has answered more than 25,000 helpline calls and averted more than 170 suicides since its inception. Within the last year, Cop 2 Cop has provided suicide prevention programs to more than 3,600 officers and has been featured in a New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma Council poster campaign.
"Members of the law enforcement community must deal with the impact of stress from the enormous responsibility of safeguarding the public. We are privileged that Cop 2 Cop has become an important support, making significant strides against the threat of suicide and against the stigma related to seeking help," said Chris Kosseff, M.S., chief executive officer for UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC). "We are grateful for the opportunity to assist those who serve, and we are deeply appreciative of this recognition."
Established in 2000 as a partnership between UMDNJ and the New Jersey State Department of Personnel, Cop 2 Cop is the first program of its kind in the nation legislated into law to focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for law enforcement officers. It is now under the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
"We proudly recognize Cop 2 Cop for its amazing peer-to-peer support model that breaks through the stigma that exists in the law enforcement community," said New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma Council Executive Director Celina Gray. "Under the informed and compassionate leadership of Cherie Castellano, dedicated team members Shelia Hobson and Pat Ciccone call on their life experience in law enforcement to guide their fellow officers and their families through times of crisis, thereby changing and saving lives."
"Your partnership will continue to be critical," New Jersey Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner Kevin Martone told all award recipients and others attending the May 18 ceremony. "We need to ensure that people with mental illness feel like they are part of a community."
Cop 2 Cop team members are trained in Critical Incident Stress Management. They respond to calls as well as conduct debriefings and defusing sessions following a critical incident. The program is the only law enforcement hotline nationwide that is certified by the American Association of Suicidology.
To reach the Cop 2 Cop helpline, call 1-866-COP-2COP. For more information about the program, visit http://ubhc.umdnj.edu/cop2cop/main.htm.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 6,000 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 its only 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, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the state.