Tel: 973-509-9777

Mental Health Association of Essex County, Inc.

  • Overview
  • Services
  • Advocacy
  • Calendar
  • Fundraising
  • Board
  • Financial & Management Reports

Intensive Family Support Services

About the Program

The Intensive Family Support Services, (IFSS) is a program of the Mental Health Association of Essex County funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services. The purpose of intensive family support services is to improve the overall functioning and quality of life of families with a relative with a serious mental illness.

Family members and professionals work collaboratively to provide each family with the knowledge, skills and supports, which they identify as useful to a family's overall functioning and sense of control. This purpose shall be achieved through reaching out to relatives and others closely involved in and concerned about their family member's daily functioning and offering them a choice of supportive activities, which are family driven, accessible, and flexible in frequency, location and hours of delivery.


IFSS services are delivered in the family home, at the agency or at other sites in the community convenient to individual family members. Families choose from an array of services those that are most relevant to their circumstances which may change over time.

The MHAEC IFSS program is located in the building of The Mental Health Association of Essex County,33 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ. 07042.


The hours of operation are: Monday – Friday 9:00 AM–5:00PM,
Monday–Thursday with available evening hours by appointment from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM.
On Monday–Thursday there are also evening groups and programs scheduled as well.
Emergency on call hours are 24 hours 7 days a week.

About our services

The MHAEC Intensive Family Support Services are based on the principle that families living with ill family members must be able to define their own needs and select their own services. These family supports must be chosen by families, controlled by families and monitored by families.

Intensive Family Support Services enhances family functioning through a greater knowledge of mental illness, treatment options, the mental health system and skills useful in managing and reducing symptomatic behaviors of the family member with a serious mental illness. Families also learn patterns of communication and levels of environmental stimulation, which have been demonstrated to reduce the number of psychiatric crises and hospitalizations. Families are encouraged to attend to their own needs for time off and social activities and are provided the supports to make it possible.

Education and support activities may include psycho-education groups, single family consultations, respite, family support groups, system advocacy referral/service linkage, and medication education. Services can be delivered in the family home, at the agency or at other sites in the community convenient to individual family members. Families choose from an array of services those that are most relevant to their circumstances, which may change over time.



IFSS services vary in scope and intensity based upon the particular needs of the family unit and shall include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Home-based family consultations including the ill family member.
  2. Agency based or community based family consultations.
  3. Telephone consultations.
  4. Service coordination, referral and linkage
  5. Family education and training on mental illness, medication, community resources and entitlements
  6. Training in self advocacy and in system advocacy
  7. Linkage with NAMI and other self-help advocacy groups or organizations.
  8. Support groups
  9. Estate and transition planning
  10. Accessing vocational and employments services
  11. Educational presentations and special lectures for families and the community at large
  12. Respite care services – both in and out of the home


Intensive Family Support Services currently runs several support groups which offer an opportunity for families coping with a loved one's mental illness to meet together with a professional for mutual support and the sharing of resources. While the support groups are open to everyone, at this time, many of the group members are parents of those with mental illness.


In an effort to reach out to the needs of other family members, IFSS is developing time-limited groups for siblings of ill family members and adult children of parents with mental illness. If you are interested in participating in a sibling or adult children group, please contact Arielle Scarpelli at (973) 509-9777 ext. 111 or,  identifying which group you are interested in as well as contact information (address, phone number, e-mail).


Copyright 2011 All rights reserved - Website Design & E-mail Marketing