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The High Point Blog


The holidays arrived early at High Point of Flemington. On Nov. 7, the facility arranged for Holiday Express, which delivers a full-fledged holiday party to businesses, complete with a full band, lunch, and well-known characters. By a few minutes after 11, the holiday spirit was in full swing for High Point’s mental health and substance use clients as well as for the staff.

The highlight at High Point was seeing the facility’s cafeteria transformed into a dance club. Holiday Express brought a 12-piece band to perform a full concert of songs befitting the season: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, “Frosty the Snowman,” “Feliz Navidad,” I Want to Wish You A Merry Christmas – and a Happy Hanukah.” Jingle Bell Rock.” You get the idea. Not every numbers were in keeping with holidays, but all were danceable; “Get on the Love Train,” and Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September.”  Client Lorraine (pictured have her face painted) did not sit a song.

Complementing the music was a cast of characters who appeared the band performed songs about them:  Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, and, of course, a bearded gent with glint in his eye and warmth in his smile.

After working up their appetites dancing, High Point’s clients and staff sat down to a lunch of very good sub sandwiches. For dessert there were chocolate chip cookies.

There was also face painting with holiday-themed images: snowmen, rein deer and snow flakes.

And, of course, there were gifts. Bags overflowing with clothing and accessories went to the winners of drawings, but every client received a gift bag as the boarded their buses for home.

On this day, the entire High Point community -clients and staff alike – celebrated as winners. The party opened the holiday season in the best possible way, with smiles, fellowship – and some serious stepping.


High Point of Flemington presented a Health Day and Awareness Day it’s clients will not soon forget. The special day of groups and education promoted a holistic approach to the treatment of mental illness and substance misuse. Special activities for the day included yoga, a healthy eating program -complete with a delicious, fresh corn salad, aroma therapy and anti-stigma messaging.

The day opened with yoga session for mental health clients. Alison Levine from Life-in-Balance Yoga studio in Flemington volunteered her time and talents. She led the mental health clients through a gentle chair yoga practice. Some clients had experience with yoga, others not. In either case, the participants found themselves utterly relaxed and at peace by the end of the hour.

Alison’s session with High Point’s Substance use clients went on for more than an hour, with clients fully engaged throughout.  Most in the group used yoga mats and as the session progressed, they were able to some fairly advanced poses. The instructor was impressed with their balance . To close the session, Alison provided some tranquil music and gradually eased the participants out of their focused, meditative state.

Nutrition is of course essential to overall health. High Point’s partner Zufall Health offers SNAP Education. Kim Seppelt is the Hunterdon County educator and she came prepared with information and a quite tasty sample of corn salad seasoned with cilantro. Clients devoured both the salad and the facts about consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Kim stressed that it was not so difficult to do. She also handed out recipes that included the one for the salad she served and for a creamy corn soup.

Along with the sense of taste, the sense of smell also played a part in the Health Day. High Point counselor Becka Galarza went through the basics of aroma therapy with a room-full of clients and allowed them to experience different essential oils. She explained the different ways to use essential oils and the properties of the different oils and also provided some history about the cultures that first used them.

The aroma part of aroma therapy is often done using a diffuser, which enables the person to inhale the aroma of an essential oil. They can also be used topically or ingested. Becka reveiwed how various oils affect an individual: Lavender promotes relaxation and rejuvenation and was used by the ancient Egyptians. Orange is uplifting and purifying, and has a sweet fragrance. Tea tree, used for centuries by Australia’s aboriginal people, has a healing quality.

Substance use clients participated in a group that addressed stigma, designing cards with messaging that reflected both the derisive terms directed at people with a substance use disorder and the positive feelings they have about their treatment and steps towards recovery.

The day also featured a guest speaker who talked about recovery from substance use, sharing her  experience, strength and hope with the group. Her talk included her personal history, what happened and what her life is like today.  The clients were given an opportunity to ask questions or share their experience.

High Point staff created some games that reinforced recovery and wellness. These included a recovery board game and a trivia contest that was variation on Jeopardy. The responses all related to mental health and substance use treatment and recovery.

This clients were captivated by the many health-focused activities. Considering their delight with the array of special groups, the emphasis on recovery and the connection between physical and emotional health, more such days at High Point cannot be far off.



Timing, they say, is everything. In a recent court case, the timing could not have been better when a judge in Oklahoma handed down a decision against Johnson & Johnson for its role in the opioid crisis. Johnson & Johnson, like other opioid manufacturers,  downplayed the addictive quality of the narcotic painkiller.  The fine in the Oklahoma case, which was $572 million, coincided with a week of forums and vigils held to mark Overdose Awareness Day, which is August 31.

Overdose Awareness Day is prologue to September’s celebration of National Addiction Recovery Month. Recovery Month puts month-long focus on addiction recovery and stresses that the best recourse with addiction is treatment, not punishment. A primary focus of it is to challenge the stigma the faces people with an addiction and those in recovery.

High Point Partial Care provides vital treatment for opioids and other drugs to residents of Hunterdon and surrounding counties. Treatment, not punishment, will produced the best results for the person with the addiction and society.  For opiate-addicted clients, High Point provides medication assisted treatment where appropriate.

High Point’s hometown of Flemington marked Overdose Awareness Day with an art show, with images depicting the pain and loss of addiction contrasted with the hope of recovery.  Treatment at High Point makes recovery possible for the many it treats for substance use.


Turning Point of Paterson recently hosted outreach and marketing representatives Daniel Meara and Bridget Cowan, from High Point of Flemington and Unity Place of Monmouth County, respectively. The Unity and High Point staff gave an in-service training on their facilities’ programs to the full complement of Turning Point clinicians; lunch was provided courtesy of Unity of Monmouth.

Turning Point Clinical Discharge Planner Donnell Shearin helped arrange the presentation and made introductions.  Turning Point has been a good partner to Unity Monmouth and High Point, and the meeting sought to strengthen the ties between the two organizations for the benefit of the substance use clients.  One of the goals of the meeting was to ensure the best possible communication between to the organizations when making a referral, exchanging clinical information that is as thorough and timely as possible.

The clinical staff of Turning Point were impressed by the creativity of High Point and Unity outreach staff, who have developed activities to mark Gay Pride Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, and National Ice Cream Day, as well as others. These special groups engage clients and they appreciate the effort made to offer them. The two PC and IOP programs are knows for the large catchment areas they transport from.

Following the meeting, Bridget and Dan were given a tour of the facility, which ended with a brief meeting with the Manager of the Admissions Support Center. The manager is said to sit in his elevated command post like Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame.

Before leaving, the Unity and High Point representatives were presented with a certificate in appreciation of their presentation and of the ongoing partnership between the treatment organizations.


Clients at High Point Partial Care had a recent visit from three creatures that were not the four-legged, soft-coated variety that usually comes to provide pet therapy. In fact, these animals had no legs at all and instead of fur they had scales; the guests that came crawling to High Point, were snakes, pythons to be precise.

The reptile program at High Point was arranged by the facility’s Quality Assurance Coordinator, Breanna Deemer, a true animal lover. On learning about the program, she contacted presenter Eliza Hubbell and had her bring the three pythons to the facility. Eliza works with the New Jersey Snake Man, Steve Lengen.

The Snake Man and staff provide educational snake programs to communities all along the eastern seaboard. One of the main goals of their program is to expose people to wildlife who otherwise might not have that opportunity. “It is important that all people develop relationships with animals.” This includes inner-city children and, it turns out, people being treated for mental health or substance use problems.

Snakes, as a High Point counselor noted, offer an excellent symbol for recovery: they shed their skin (molt) and in so doing renew themselves. High Point’s clients are working to shed their former selves and embrace a new life (though maybe not embrace it as tightly as the pythons.

While some of the clients wanted to keep at a safe distance from the snakes, almost all of High Point’s mental health clients were intrigued by the them. More than half were open to holding one of them at the end of the program.

Eliza explained that pythons are constrictors, meaning they coil around their prey and slowly squeezing the life out of them. Other snakes, including some found in New Jersey, use venom, not poison, to attack their prey. Eliza distinguished between venom is delivered through a bite, and poison, which is either ingested or enters the body through the skin, such as with poison ivy. New Jersey does not permit people to keep venomous snakes as pets.

The three varieties of pythons that Eliza brought were the Ball Python (native to Africa), the Children’s Python and the Wilma Python, both found naturally in Australia.  The friendliest of the three was the Ball Python; the most striking, with bright yellow skin, was the Wilma. One of the snakes, as yet unnamed, might be dubbed “High Point.”

Some in the audience knew some basic facts about snakes before the program, such as that they are cold blooded, which explains why they tend to coil up on rocks  in the sun and draw warmth from them.

By the end of the presentation, Eliza said she generally sees some audience members fall in love with snakes and adopt snakes as support animal. Some of High Point’s clients just might just do that.

The snakes will be making a return trip to High Point in the coming weeks, as presentation for the substance use clients is in the works.


High Point marked Mental Health Awareness Month on May 22 with an event that had the clients feeling great inside and out. Staff orchestrated a day of self-care that encompassed mind, body along with hair styles and manicure for the clients, all of which left them wanting more.

The self-care day helped the clients appreciate the importance of making time for all aspects of their health: physical, emotional and how one’s appearance lends to a feeling of self-worth and possibility. This holistic approach is in keeping with High Point’s treatment philosophy.

High Point staff did an outstanding job in setting up this day and creating an experience the clients will long remember. Contributing to the day was, among others, Zufall Health, a federally qualified health center, which provided an array of services.  At a nutrition table was Zufall’s Kim Sepplelt offering three varieties of flavored water: strawberry, watermelon and mint with cucumber. The waters were refreshing and, as Seppalt point out, free of processed sugar, which is among the worst things a person can ingest.

Zufall was also doing general outreach to talk about the health services it provides to under-insured and uninsured individuals.  They also signed up individuals interested in HIV testing, which will be done at a later date.

The mind/body link addressed through a yoga session led by yoga therapist Laura Nott. Ms. Nott created a program called “Gentle Chair Yoga and Meditation.”  It was designed to loosen joints and including breathing exercises to promote relaxation. As the weather was beautiful, the yoga session was done outside the facility. After the session, Laura provided clients with handouts to guide them in doing the exercise at home.

The looking-good-is- feeling-good portion of the event featured hair stylist Michelle Gill.   A number of clients came away very pleased with their new ‘doos.’ Gill has an organization, Color it Forward, which gives haircuts to women in “transitional situations.” In many cases they have recently left an abusive relationship and are a loss about their future. Color it Forward, as Gill stresses, “is in the business of self-esteem.”  High Point staff added to the impromptu  salon by doing manicures for clients. Program Director Anna Vitale participated by providing hand massages to clients.

To augment the clients’ new look, many of them received a piece of costume jewelry donated by Harvest Family Success Center in Flemington. Another organization in this vein, Dress for Success, could not participate but provide information about their services. Dress for Success, which has a chapter in Madison in Morris County, provides business attire to women in need, and it conducts workshops on a host of issues for people new to or long absent from the workforce and the job application process.

High Point is known as a second family to its clients (in some cases, their only family). The self-care day highlighted this commitment, but glimpses of High Point’s high level of care are evident every day.


Halloween in May? Twins just for Day? High Point has come up with these activities and others for Spirit Week, which will run from May 13-17. High Point holds spirit week every year to keep things interesting for our clients and lift their spirits as they work to overcome substance use problems and mental illness.

High Point’s Outreach staff seems to never run out of creative ways to engage our clients. In addition to being encouraged to come in costumes and pair up with a doppelganger, each day will have something to make it interesting.

Tuesday is Rainbow Day, during which clients are encouraged to wear as many colors as possible. There will also by tie-dying of shirts on this day. Space Day (Thursday is dedicated to the otherworldly achievements, benefits and opportunities in the exploration of space. Open to aliens of all kinds. And the week wraps up Disney Day (Friday), celebrating the wonderful world of Disney.

Credit goes primarily to Sarah and Max of Outreach, but all of High Point’s staff will have a part in Spirit Week, which coincides with High Point’s Mental Health Awareness events.


It has taken the patience of Job, but addiction and mental health insurance parity is now law in New Jersey. Last week, the long-anticipated goal of seeing a law enacted to require health insurers to treat patients with addiction or mental illness equitably became a reality. On April 11, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into a law a measure that will eliminate health insurers’ restrictive practices for accessing behavioral health vstr and ensure accountability through a reporting protocol to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

High Point, a Partial Care and IOP in Flemington that provides quality behavioral health care for adults, applauds the work of advocates who dedicated themselves for years to seeing the reform through. The parity law prevents insurers from imposing higher co-pays and other tighter restrictions on covering care such as care limits and usage reviews.

Also in the law is a requirement for insures to submit an annual report detailing their means of determining medical necessity and other treatment limits for both physical and behavioral health issues. The department is then charged with analyzing the industry reports and producing its own evaluation of whether parity is being achieved. Each May, DOBI must submit its assessment to the Legislature.

Gov. Murphy said the new law bring “peace of mind” to families who have a loved one with a behavioral health problem. One of those families is that of Rocky Schwartz, a Hunterdon County resident who has been a stalwart in advocating for parity. Her sons were denied treatment for their addictions and she continues to fight to be reimbursed by the health insurer who denied their treatment.

Parity has been in place at the federal level for more than a decade. Enforcement, however, was left largely to the states. New Jersey, like most states, did a poor job as an insurance watchdog. In fact, New Jersey was among many states earning failing mark from parity advocacy group ParityTrack, which was established by Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman and son of Ted Kennedy who now lives in New Jersey. This new law will greatly improve that rating.

The law will prevent insurers from creating further hardships for families whose loved ones are facing the challenge of substance use or mental illness. The wait for parity may have seemed biblical in length but it has had a happy ending – or perhaps it should be regarded as a happy beginning for behavioral health in our state.


High Point Partial Care clients recently got to see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” That was how a High Point counselor described the effect on clients of a two-day “In Our Own Voice” program provided by National Alliance on Mental Illness. The NAMI presenters recounted their own histories of mental health problems and how, having come through treatment, they now lead full and rewarding lives.

The presentations included videos that explained the symptoms of various forms of mental illness, but the greatest benefit to High Point’s clients came from the personal stories of presenters. With counseling and in some cases medications, they have started families and careers.  One presenter detailed her on coping skill, which include a holistic combination of diet, health and meditation.

One NAMI presenter described her co-occurrence fall into heroin addiction. Another spoke of her bi-polar disorder, but she is not stable and working a farm with her husband as well as going to school. Her studies are in the mental health field and she intends to help fill in some of the cracks in the treatment system that can make it difficult to access appropriate care.

Nearly all the clients were inspired by the presentations. One client shared about what she needs to do for herself: be attuned each every day to her one’s moods and vigilant about her medications.

Treatment at High Point includes a host of groups, case management, medication management, which are often complemented by programs such as the one NAMI presnted at the Flemington facility.


Three members of the High Point staff were recently invited to be interviewed on the Mental Health Podcast, which is hosted by Larry Cartwright of National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) of Hunterdon. High Point Program Director Anna Vitale, Marketing Director Daniel Meara and Outreach Coordinator Sarah Nehrings covered the programs many strengths and how it acts as a second family for the clients it serves.

The hosted asked Daniel to provide an overview of High Point and the people it services.  He described its mental health and addiction programs and that some clients will have co-occurrence, a combination of drug use and mental health problems. He covered the Medication Assisted Treatment High Point provides for clients with an addiction and that the facility has a medical director and APN to monitor and adjust medications.

Daniel noted that High Point belongs to a family of programs located around New Jersey. The three affiliated programs are Unity Place of Monmouth County, Unity Place of Cherry Hill and Unity Place of Hammonton. All four programs have in common that they provide a far-reaching transportation service to clients.

Among the key elements of High Point, Daniel stressed, is that High Point has no waiting list for new clients. This is critical as many people with an addiction or mental illness will only have a short window of time when they are open to entering treatment.

Anna went gave deep dive into the two distinct populations that High Point serves: mental health and addiction. She went into the origins of co-occurrence and the fact that sometimes the drug use is the beginning of the issue, and sometimes mental illness leads to self-medication.  It can take a while to unravel the root of the problem.

The mental health clients attend High Point’s full-day program. The diagnoses of pervasive mental illness include schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. The goal in these cases is to stabilize the client within the community and wrap them with services according to their individualized needs. For these individuals, the days include groups and other supports including case management.

High Point, Anna noted, is like a second family to these and all the clients. Some clients, Anna noted, have little family support because of the degree of their mental health problem.

Upon admission, Sarah described a client can expect during their first days at High Point. She said the person will undergo an intake assessment to determine the right level of care and triage their needs. Sarah or her colleague in Outreach the person on their arrival and help them become acclimated to the environment.  She discussed the fact that High Point will work with family members if that that is what they require.

The host, Larry Cartwright, asked about cases that have no family.  Anna said in those cases the client is linked to other resources in their community. In some cases, their mental health issues or addiction have caused them to become estranged from their family, High Point will work with families to mend bridges between the client and his or her family.

Anna stressed that High Point will not turn away anyone looking for treatment and will assist with filling out forms, such as Family Care, so they will have coverage for their care.

To hear to full podcast, go to:


High Point supports our clients with mental illness and addiction and sets them on the path to recovery, fulfillment and independence

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