Combatting Behavioral Health Inequities Among Families of Color Hardest Hit by COVID-19

Communities of color across the country, and particularly in the state of New Jersey, have been significantly and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have these communities experienced disproportionately high COVID-19 case and death rates, but the pandemic only served to expose underlying racism and health disparities that have existed for centuries. 

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) recognized that one of the biggest disparities is access to behavioral healthcare, a vital need for many throughout the ongoing pandemic. To help address the behavioral health inequalities that exist in the New Jersey’s communities most negatively impacted by COVID-19, the organization launched COVID-19 Pandemic: Emotional Support for Families of Color. Through the program and close collaboration with community partners, the MHANJ is providing a range of educational and emotional support services to assist underserved individuals and families faced with challenges related to mental health and substance use disorder.

R&J, a longtime partner of the MHANJ, was once again tapped by the organization for our knowledge of the New Jersey media market and expertise in the mental health space to help launch the program this past spring. To raise awareness of the program and reach people in need, the R&J public relations team conducted a strategic media relations campaign, targeting a range of print, online and broadcast publications in the tri-state area. 

One of the integral aspects of Support for Families of Color is the expanded scope of the MHANJ’s well-established PEWS (Promoting Emotional Wellness and Spirituality) program, led by its Director, Deacon Laverne S. Williams, who has worked with New Jersey’s churches for over 15 years, providing education and training to Pastors, Deacons, and church ministries to address the stigma of mental illness. As a result of the agency’s media relations efforts R&J was able to secure Williams interviews with The Philadelphia Inquirer, NJ Spotlight News and WMBC to discuss the need for the Support for Families of Color program and how New Jersey residents in need can obtain behavioral health services. 

In the coming months, R&J will continue to support the MHANJ and COVID-19 Pandemic: Emotional Support for Families of Color through an integrated digital marketing and PR campaign to help them in their efforts to combat racism and improve access to behavioral health services for the state’s most vulnerable residents. If you are interested in supporting the MHANJ and COVID-19 Pandemic: Emotional Support for Families of Color, please visit

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R&J Strategic Communications is a full service integrated marketing and public relations agency that helps businesses discover, define and articulate their value to a target audience. We provide services to both consumer and business-to-business focused firms in the New Jersey metro area and beyond.

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