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Groundbreaking Ushers in New Chapter for Youth Mental Health Treatment

Marlene Brandt speaking during the groundbreaking for the Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Residence
Marlene Brandt, who committed $30 million to help launch the Rutgers Initiative for Youth Behavioral Health and Well-Being, welcomed a new chapter for mental health treatment during the groundbreaking of the Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Residence.
John O'Boyle

Rutgers alumna Marlene Brandt, who committed $30 million to help launch the Rutgers Initiative for Youth Behavioral Health and Well-Being, welcomed a new chapter for mental health treatment during the groundbreaking of a transformative project that grew out of her response to the challenges families face when seeking care for their adolescents and young adults.

“This project was inspired by a lifelong connection to mental health challenges,” said Brandt, during the ceremony that marked the advancement of the Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Residence. “It was emboldened by endless frustrations in seeking curative measures. But, most importantly, it was ignited by personal triumph.”

Shovels meeting dirt not only signaled construction, but the building of hope for so many families struggling to find answers in the Garden State.

“This is a story of a Rutgers alumna’s leadership,” said President Jonathan Holloway. “Marlene had a vision of excellence and the strength and courage to shape that vision into reality.”

More than one in five adolescents experience a serious mental health disorder, according to statistics from the National Institutes of Mental Health, with young adults aged 18 to 25 significantly vulnerable.

“New Jersey families need such care and often resort to out-of-state options to receive support,” said New Brunswick Chancellor/Provost Francine Conway. “It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of parents desperately trying to help their children.”

“I would like to give families an easier path to behavioral health and wellness,” said Brandt.

The Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Residence will be the centerpiece of the Rutgers Initiative for Youth Behavioral Health and Well-Being. The center will establish a gold standard for evidence-based behavioral health care and extend world-class outpatient services to many New Jersey youth and young adults. It will offer a comprehensive array of services, summoning the resources Rutgers has at its disposal- its vast intellectual talent and research capacity- to offer advanced forms of treatment.

“The impact of this is almost incalculable,” said Chancellor of Biomedical and Health Sciences and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Brian Strom. “As we speak, there are young people out there now facing uncertainty and pain who will be able to find solutions here.”

The center will draw upon the most advanced methodologies in psychology and psychiatry, and at the same time it will make use of strategies in social work, education, nutrition and the arts. The approach will be holistic, emphasizing the progress and development of the whole person.

“The center is going to function as a treatment environment, but also as a refuge in the most positive sense of that word,” said Frank A. Ghinassi, President and CEO for Rutgers Health University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC). “It will an enable an immersive community experience, connecting residents with one another to discover common ground and interests.”

Current estimates project the facility to accommodate 220 residential participants per year, with the ability to serve an additional 1,500 young adults on an outpatient basis.

“The creation of the Brandt Center represents nothing less than Rutgers stepping forward into the spotlight of national leadership,” added Holloway. “That is happening not because we do one thing really well, but because we understand that this is all about creating a community, a community of people who excel, who do what they do really well and who know how to apply it in caring, communal and human ways.”