NJAMHAA’s Campaign Features Heartwarming Success of a Client who Now Works in the Healthcare Field

February 20, 2024

The New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) is grateful to Illias Duval for sharing his story to demonstrate the tremendous value of mental health care as part of NJAMHAA's campaign, Diverse Faces: All Are Worthy of Full Investment. NJAMHAA is also thankful for Jen Velten, MA, LPC, ACS, CCTP, DRCC, Senior Director of Trauma Services and C.O.P.E. Supervisor and Clinician, for sharing her perspective on Illias' achievements.

Since before college, Illias has struggled with anxiety and participated in CarePlus NJ's C.O.P.E. mental healthcare program. After high school, he continued with C.O.P.E. to overcome challenges associated with living off campus, continuing with school and working, which exasperated anxiety along with feelings of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Illias has shown tremendous strength and motivation in the face of adversity," said Jen, who has worked with Illias for several years. "He has always dreamed of working with science and technology to help people and make their lives better."

With Jen's support, Illias achieved these goals. He graduated from Rutgers University, is working in pediatric care and plans to earn a Master's degree and then attend medical school.

NJAMHAA urges Governor Phil Murphy to keep in mind Illias and others' uplifting stories as the FY2025 State Budget is being developed and dedicate sufficient funding to strengthen New Jersey's behavioral healthcare system. Significant funding increases are needed in the FY2025 State Budget to strengthen our state's behavioral healthcare system and especially the New Jersey residents who depend on it to thrive.

Click here to read more success stories in NJAMHAA's campaign brochure and here to watch videos that feature additional inspiring examples of the value of behavioral healthcare services and the workforce who provides them.

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