The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is pleased to announce that Janice Campbell, Founder and President of Tri-State Canine Response Team, is our new Behavioral Healthcare Hero. While working for the Mental Health Association in many different roles, Ms. Campbell began to realize that animals could have a profound impact on some patients. She had experience with the protocols for therapy dogs because she had previously taught a dog therapy course. That experience coupled with her mental health training gave her the idea to use canine partners in therapeutic situations. She started a pilot program while at MHA bringing dogs to units at a psychiatric hospital.
This led to the birth of Tri-state Canine Response Teams in 2015, an all -volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to helping others with the assistance of canine companions. She began with only four dogs and today her organization has expanded to 55 dogs and 60 handlers. Ms. Campbell’s thoughtful ingenuity established a nationally recognized and
much needed resource utilizing the scientifically proven healing properties of the human canine bond.
Tri-State Canine Response based in Cherry Hill, NJ, provides certified, trained handler/dog teams for Animal Assisted Activities, Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Crisis Response Teams to individuals, families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities that are in crisis. They also provide emotional support and aid to First Responders and offer comfort to victims of disaster or violence. Ms. Campbell has grown the organization beyond the Tri-State area to have a national footprint with deployments to crisis situations in Florida, Colorado, Texas, Nevada, and California. She has spoken at the Crisis Intervention Team’s (CIT) national convention offering insight on how the teams work with CIT personnel in disaster situations. Some of the out-of-state high-profile deployments include: The Pulse nightclub in Orlando; Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and they recently returned from Boulder, Colorado where teams sat in the FBI Recovery Center as families arrived to claim belongings.
Every Tri-State Canine handler is trained in mental health interventions such as QPR, and CIT training. According to Rebekah Leon, Executive Director of MHA Passaic County and a CIT member and mental health coordinator, “I knew they were a valuable resource because they have such an impact on first responders, children and the entire community in a crisis. I truly appreciate the value they bring when our communities are hurting; I have witnessed this myself.”
During the pandemic Tri-state kept deploying despite the risk. Janice relates, “Our canine partners are always upper most in our minds. In the beginning of the pandemic, we were unsure if animals had natural immunity to Covid; this created a lot of uncertainty.” The organization spent over $7000.00 on PPE during this past year for protection of team members and their animals which speaks to the dedication of this group to serve even in uncertain and hazardous conditions. These dogs are also highly trained to work in tense situations and know when and how to approach a person to bring comfort or calm them down. The teams also support the Traumatic Loss Coalition and have deployed within New Jersey at schools, nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, boarding homes, veterans’ homes, and youth facilities after disturbing episodes.
To date Tri-State Canine Response Teams have served and touched the lives of over 142,485 people. Ms. Campbell and Tri-State Canine Response Teams continue to be on the front lines serving New Jerseyans courageously during all types of crises.
CONGRATULATIONS Janice Campbell! The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is proud to bestow accolades on this dedicated mental health professional and crisis intervention specialist. MHANJ is honored to recognize her, the dedicated team members, the canine companions, and the entire Tri-State Canine Response Team organization as a Behavioral Healthcare Hero!
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey established the Behavioral Healthcare Hero Awards program to recognize unsung heroes in behavioral health who are going “above and beyond” to help people with mental health and substance use disorders and their family members during the COVID-19 pandemic.