Rutgers lays off mental health employees amid coronavirus pandemic - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Rutgers lays off mental health employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Taken from

By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News

July 25, 2020

Rutgers University has laid off dozens of mental health professionals across the state — whose jobs include responding to family households amid crises — due to financial implications the university said was caused by COVID-19.

Kayla Meehan, 26, of the Colonia section of Woodbridge, worked for Rutgers’ Children’s Mobile Response and Stabilization Services for nearly three years visiting households throughout Middlesex County.

Meehan worked with families assessing children for suicides and other behavioral and mental health issues.

On Thursday, she was informed that she will be getting laid off on Aug. 22.

“It not only affects my life, but also all of the families that we serve,” she said.

Meehan also has about a year left at graduate school, which she was taking at Rutgers through terms negotiated by her union, Health Professionals & Allied Employees (HPAE), AFT/AFL-CIO.

“So now I have to figure out a way to pay for school next year,” she said. “Also, my health benefits are gone. I just turned 26, so I just got on my own health benefits and now I have to struggle to figure out how to do that, as well.”

According to the union, Meehan is one of 56 employees affected by the layoffs. Rutgers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. There were 29 employees laid off in Piscataway, 19 in Newark and eight in Cherry Hill, according to the union.

“HPAE members sacrificed their time, their safety, and their own mental health to mitigate this interlocking COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare, mental health, economic, and societal crisis, and this is the treatment we get in return,” Barbara Rosen, HPAE first-vice president, said in a statement. “These are frontline mental health crisis first responders in some of our most hard-hit communities. Rutgers chose to cut the legs out from essential services much needed in Camden, Cherry Hill and Newark during a pandemic and social and economic justice crisis.”

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