A journey to mental well-being

“First I had trouble sleeping, which led to anxiety and eventually depression. I felt hopeless. But I met an angel when I met Monica Dhingra, MD, my psychiatrist at Christian Health Care Counseling Center (CHCCC),” says Frank D.

Frank is one of nearly 2,700 clients at CHCCC, an outpatient program providing treatment for mental-health disorders present in people of all ages, from children to seniors. The goal is to help individuals learn the coping skills needed to function in all areas of the community.

Frank’s mental-health issues began when he and his wife moved from Pennsylvania to the Jersey Shore. The 60-year-old wasn’t working at the time.

“I had a lot of stressors in my life. I wasn’t working. It seemed like I ran into a problem with everything that I did,” Frank says. “I couldn’t sleep. When you can’t sleep, you can’t function.”

Anxiety and depression developed. He was admitted to a behavioral-health unit in an acute-care hospital and began outpatient counseling upon discharge.

“Those programs were good, but I still wasn’t well. I wanted to find a better place,” says the Paterson native. “My sister told me about Christian Health Care Center. I liked the fact that it is Christian-based. When I met Dr. Dhingra, I was sold. She listened to me and was patient with me. She really cared. The director, Bart Mongiello, LCSW, and my therapist, Mike Kenny, LCSW, were very empathetic, too.”

At CHCCC, clients have access to a variety of treatments provided by psychiatrists and therapists, including specialists in child therapy and marriage counseling. Treatment options include individual, family, and group therapy. Care may involve working on personal issues, goals, and problem-solving strategies. When appropriate, family members are involved. Individualized treatment plant are developed by a client’s psychiatrist and therapist based on an initial assessment and subsequent clinical evaluations. For some individuals, treatment requires medication to alleviate intense and disruptive symptoms that are interfering with daily life.

“In addition to therapy sessions, I needed medications. Dr. Dhingra prescribed the right medications for me,” Frank says. “The combination of therapy and drugs helped me so much.”

The CHCCC staff is uniquely positioned to incorporate faith into treatment at the request of the client.

“Through my treatment at CHCCC, I went back to my religious roots. I give thanks to God. I have so many caring people supporting me,” Franks says. “I’ve never felt this good. My whole mindset on life has changed.”

Frank now sees Dr. Dhingra every two months. He established a successful home-improvement company, and readily shares his journey to mental well-being as a way of offering hope to others who may be suffering.

“Scientific research illustrating the biological components of mental health has greatly increased awareness and knowledge of mental illness. The stigma surrounding mental illness continues to break down, and consequently, society is more apt to take advantage of counseling,” Mr. Mongiello says. “Never hesitate to seek professional help. No one should have to live with an untreated mental-health disorder.”


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