Bill Would Allow Out-Of-State Mental Health Therapists To Practice in NJ


A bill aimed at easing the shortage of mental health professionals in New Jersey passed the state Assembly unanimously on Thursday. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis, A5311 would allow licensed counselors from other states to practice in New Jersey via telehealth without needing multiple licenses.

“As the rates of depression, substance abuse, anxiety and suicide continue to climb, so does the need for a permanent fix to the practitioner shortages that are creating delays in treatment. The pandemic exacerbated the problem and created a crisis,” Matsikoudis (R-Union) said in a statement.

New Jersey is one of several states including Wisconsin, South Carolina and Rhode Island currently working to join the compact. A Senate companion bill, S3061, is awaiting a committee hearing.

Among the 42% of adults in New Jersey who reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, nearly half were unable to get counseling, Matsikoudis said, citing statistics from the the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Additionally, 61% of people ages 12 to 17 with depression didn’t receive care within the last year, the Alliance reported.

The bill builds on the success of a temporary program that allowed out-of-state counselors to practice in New Jersey during the pandemic, providing care to over 30,000 patients, according to Matsikoudis’ statement.

The assemblywoman said joining the interstate counseling compact would decrease the regulatory burden on mental health professionals; allow for continuity of care for patients who move out of state; and pen up access to new patients.

“An interstate counseling compact removes the barriers for professionals and patients to put New Jersey on a path to better mental health,” Matsikoudis said.

If you or your child are experiencing a mental health crisis, one of the fastest ways to reach a counselor is through the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, which will route you to counselors with the NJ Hope Line.

Other resources can be found with New Jersey Mental Health Cares at 866-202-HELP.

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