Posted by: Andrea Alexander | June 16, 2013

‘I’m Here for You’: Mom2Mom Celebrates the Unique Bonds Among Mothers of Children with Special Needs


The Mom2Mom peer counseling team

After July 1, University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC), one of the largest providers of its kind in the country, will become part of Rutgers.

In partnership with the departments of psychiatry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School, UMDNJ–UBHC provides academically based clinical programs and services for New Jersey state initiatives and public sector programs as well as for employers and the corporate community. One of the programs that will be coming to Rutgers is Mom2Mom, a 24-hour helpline for mothers of children with special needs.

“Mom2Mom makes me feel like I’m not on an island,” says Marie Reich of Rutherford, the mother of a 12-year-old autistic son. Over the past year, Reich has formed a bond with her counselor, Mary Beth Walsh, whose son is also autistic. Reich is one of 40 callers who traveled last month to the Mom2Mom call center in Piscataway to meet the counselors face-to-face after getting to know and rely on them only as voices on the phone.

Where many organizations provide a valuable focus on the educational and developmental needs of the children, Mom2Mom stands alone by concentrating on the emotional well-being of the parents, whose burdens go beyond those faced by other parents. Through Mom2Mom [(877)-914-MOM2], mothers of children with special needs have been trained as peer counselors to staff the helpline and talk to other mothers facing similar issues.

“Mom2Mom is not just a helpline that you call once,” Reich says. “Mary Beth regularly calls back to check on me. I love my family. I love my friends. But they don’t always understand like a mom of a child with special needs can.”

UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare provides a similar helpline to assist New Jersey Veterans, and also runs Cop 2 Cop, the first program of its kind in the nation that focuses on suicide prevention and mental health support for law enforcement officers.

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