Posted on October 9, 2015

Mental Health Stigma

October 4 – 10 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Although it’s important all year long, this week gives us the opportunity to discuss mental illness in America and the stigma surrounding it. Here are just a few stats about mental health in the U.S.:

Approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness in a given year.

Approximately 1 in 25 adults experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.

The good news is, mental health disorders are common, treatable, and many individuals go on to recover and lead full and productive lives. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to ask for help or simply don’t know where to find it. Connecting to community resources helps reduce isolation, and increases each individual’s ability to make healthy choices.

We Can Help!
Oaks Integrated Care provides over 150 behavioral health programs for vulnerable children, adults and families in our community. Outreach services give adults living with mental illness the opportunity to manage their illness through supportive counseling, housing, vocational assistance, family support, medication education and crisis intervention.

One Way YOU Can Help – Take the Pledge!
Join Oaks Integrated Care and our friends at NAMI as we fight against the stigma surrounding mental health! NAMI’s theme this year for Mental Illness Awareness Week revolves around their StigmaFree initiative.

NAMI explains “Being Stigma Free means learning about and educating others on mental illness, focusing on connecting with people to see each other as individuals and not a diagnosis, and most importantly, taking action on mental health issues and taking the StigmaFree pledge.”

Learn more at: http://www.nami.org/miaw#sthash.EkfWrfbi.dpuf

– Rachael

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2015 Touch A Truck Photos

Posted on September 29, 2015

Check out all the fun from the 4th Annual Touch A Truck
on our Facebook and Flickr pages!

Oaks Integrated Care Touch A Truck 2015

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Registration for the 2015 Moorestown Progressive Dinner is now open!

Posted on September 17, 2015


Registration is now open for our Moorestown Progressive Dinner!

Begin the evening with a cocktails and hors d’oeuvres reception at the beautiful home of Ed and Barbara Omert. From there, move on to share an intimate dinner with friends prepared by a talented area chef in a Moorestown home.

Proceeds benefit our Food Pantries and Mt. Holly and Berlin.

For more information on tickets, sponsorships and more, visit our Moorestown Progressive Dinner page.
– Rachael

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900 Backpacks Donated Through Operation Fill-A-Backpack

Posted on September 1, 2015

THANK YOU to everyone who supported Oaks Integrated Care Operation Fill-A-Backpack drive! With all of the community support, we handed out over 900 backpacks to children in need. YOU gave a child the chance to start the school year with the tools and confidence needed to succeed!

Here are a few photos from this year’s drive:

Stuffed backpacks from Gannett Fleming.

Stuffed backpacks from Gannett Fleming.

TD Bank shows off their donations.

TD Bank shows off their donations.

Volunteers from Iron Hill Brewery.

Volunteers from Iron Hill Brewery sorting donations.

Hoeganaes drops off their daontions.

Hoeganaes drops off their donations.

YPN volunteers

Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce Young Professional volunteers ready to stuff backpacks!

If you have pictures of your own backpack drive, post them on our Facebook wall!

– Rachael

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Save the Date: Touch A Truck 2015

Posted on August 11, 2015


Touch A Truck is pulling into the the Moorestown Mall Parking Lot! Mark your calendars for September 26, 2015 so you don’t miss a minute of the fun!


Fair Housing Opportunities for New Jersey Families

Posted on August 6, 2015

Today on the blog, we feature an OP-ED our CEO, Bob Pekar, wrote. It was recently featured in The Burlington County Times.

Imagine trying to recover from a serious mental illness and not being sure where you were going to be able to sleep at night. Or imagine leaving an abusive relationship but not knowing whether you would have a stable home to fall back on where you could rebuild your life.

Situations like these are all too common in New Jersey. Even as new research has shown that good housing is the key to getting families confronting mental illness and other disabilities on their feet, too many New Jersey families wait for years on waiting lists to access safe and affordable housing opportunities. At Oaks Integrated Care, we always have families waiting in line for a housing opportunity.

Statewide, of the 120,000 New Jersey residents living with disabilities on the Social Security rolls receiving less than $800 a month, only 41,000 receive federal or state housing assistance. The rest struggle with substandard housing, living at home with aging parents or are at risk for homelessness.

But these families have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get the services they need to thrive. In a March ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court reaffirmed our state constitution’s commitment to fair housing options for our families.

Most attention on our housing policies, known as the Mount Laurel doctrine, focuses on the benefits they provide to working families and senior citizens. But because the needs of people with disabilities and those who suffer from mental illness and domestic violence are so great, our courts recognize that towns have an obligation to provide housing services to them as well.

The high court’s ruling means that, over the next several months, hundreds of towns across New Jersey will submit housing plans to the courts for judicial review. Towns will have to prove they are taking appropriate steps to ensure they are doing enough to provide New Jersey residents with their fair share of housing opportunities.

Thanks to 16 years of litigation and bitter struggles over our state’s housing policies, it is understandable that towns are approaching this new process with caution. We invite them to view the next few months as an opportunity to make good on a legal and moral obligation to some of New Jersey’s neediest families.

As a full-service social service provider with nearly 500 clients in supportive housing environments, we know firsthand the benefits a stable home can bring. A home provides a stable place for people battling devastating mental illnesses to call their own and recover. It also provides opportunities for wraparound services, like counseling and access to social workers, which give people the chance to rebuild their lives.

Oaks Integrated Care offers services ranging from food pantries to case management options. But providing quality housing opportunities is the backbone of what we do – because without a home, these other services aren’t nearly as effective.

Housing isn’t just a moral and legal obligation New Jersey municipalities must face. It also makes good financial sense. Supportive housing options save taxpayers money by preventing extended, expensive hospital stays and even homelessness.

I call on towns to work cooperatively with developers and nonprofit and advocacy communities to craft local solutions to this pressing problem that work for everyone. As a manager of group homes, permanent supportive housing options and emergency transitional homes, we have deep experience in working with towns across Camden, Burlington and Mercer counties in meeting their housing obligations.

Many other organizations with similar expertise are waiting to lend a hand and leverage state, federal and local housing dollars to meet the growing need for these services. The need for this type of housing is so pressing that the courts even allow municipalities to earn bonuses or credits toward their obligations for building certain types of affordable housing units.

As towns across South Jersey prepare their housing plans over the next few months, we call on them to do all they can to help their fellow residents in need. These aren’t just numbers – they’re our brothers, our sisters, our children and our friends. And they deserve our help.

Bob Pekar is the CEO of Oaks Integrated Care (formerly Twin Oaks Community Services) in Mount Holly, a member of the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey

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Every CHILD Deserves a GREAT First Day of School

Posted on August 1, 2015

Oaks Integrated Care Operation Fill A Backpack Girl

When children return to school without even the most basic school supplies necessary for class, it can have a devastating impact on their education. Many parents of children and teens in Oaks Integrated Care programs cannot afford new backpacks and essential supplies for the upcoming school year.

You can show a child that you believe in his or her ability to succeed by donating a new backpack stuffed with new school supplies. Your donation will give a child the confidence needed to start the school year off on the path to success!

For a complete listing of supplies needed and drop off locations, visit our Operation Fill-A-Backpack page!

– Rachael

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Exciting News!

Posted on July 1, 2015


Exciting News! TODAY Twin Oaks merged with Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare and our name changed to Oaks Integrated Care!

The new partnership brings together two clinically strong, financially healthy organizations with a shared mission focused on improving the quality of life for individuals and families. Most importantly, the merger brings the promise of growth, giving more people access to quality, effective behavioral health services. Integrating operations will expand reach, spread best practices, strengthen effectiveness and ensure maximum efficiency.

The name Oaks Integrated Care reflects the qualities of the mighty oak, which has deep roots in the community, many branches and continues to grow and reach the highest heights. By focusing on integrated care, the organization can begin to treat the whole person to achieve both mental and physical wellness.

With 135 programs serving 16,000 consumers, over 1,850 employees and a budget of 98 million dollars, Oaks Integrated Care will emerge as one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive and forward-looking human service providers.

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Donor Spotlight: Performance Food Group

Posted on June 16, 2015

PFG gave out ice cream sandwiches at Touch A Truck last September.

PFG gave out ice cream sandwiches at Touch A Truck last September.

Performance Food Group (PFG) is one of the largest food service distributors in the nation. They market and distribute more than 66,000 products both domestically and in 40 foreign countries. Their reach may be global, but they continue to support locally. Since 2011, the PFG distribution center in Westampton regularly donates a variety of food products to the Twin Oaks Mt. Holly Food Pantry. Over the years, PFG has given our pantry over 1,500 cases of food. Our Mt. Holly pantry serves over 400 families a month and these donations help meet the growing demand of hunger in South Jersey.

Thanks for everything you do PFG!

– Rachael

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Safety: The Path to Increased Engagement

Posted on June 10, 2015

All of us have experienced trauma in some shape or form throughout our lives. This could mean a family member passing away, a relationship ending badly, the loss of a pet or other traumatic experience. Our journeys are filled with little and big bumps in the road. These “bumps” can change the way we take care of ourselves and interact with others.

Every day at Twin Oaks we help children and adults with histories of trauma and acknowledge the role trauma has played in their lives. Trauma can leave one feeling emotionally and physically unsafe, overwhelmed with distrust and fearful of rejection. To help move past these feelings, our number one priority is to engage individuals in the treatment process and provide a compassionate support system in a safe, comforting environment.

When a person feels emotionally and physically safe, they are better able to move toward recovery. The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health offers several tips that we use at Twin Oaks to enhance safety:

1. Understand emotional safety. Emotional safety means feeling accepted; it is the sense that one is safe from emotional attack or harm. It may be difficult for someone who has experienced trauma to find a day-to-day sense of calm and safety even after receiving care.

2. Provide a soothing place. When we provide a calming space, we are telling consumers we care about how they feel and are interested in what happens to them emotionally as well as physically. A soothing space may be as simple as a private room, comfortable chair or colorful mural on the wall to help restore a feeling of calmness.

3. Help manage feelings. Trauma may affect a person’s ability to find emotional balance. Survivors may experience a flood of feelings and worries that make it difficult to make decisions, follow plans and tend to responsibilities. Our job is to help activate and engage the thinking processes and work to identify achievable goals which can lead to greater safety and control.

By providing a safe environment for our consumers, they can focus on their wellness and recovery without fear. Once engaged, individuals can begin to participate effectively in their own care, reduce isolation and make healthy choices. Engagement with every consumer provides a hopeful path to success.

Thank you for your support in our continued efforts to break the cycle of disengagement and provide the highest quality clinical services to people facing mental illness in our community.

Bob Pekar

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