Ruth Kaluski has seen a lot of change in the thirty years she has worked in the mental health field. Beginning her career in rehabilitation counseling in 1989, Ruth entered the world of clinical mental health services at a time when conversations about mental illness were clouded by stigma and bias. Now serving as the Statewide Director of Strategic Programs and Mental Health First Aid at Mental Health Association of New Jersey (MHANJ), Ruth is amazed by the growing number of people who talk openly about their challenges and empower others to do the same. As more people than ever are seeking to add mental healthcare to their regular practices in well-being, along with visits to the dentist and an annual physical, Ruth and the team at MHANJ are proud to act as a statewide provider of support services, peer services, education, training, and advocacy.

At MHANJ, Ruth is responsible for overseeing the Mental Health First Aid program. Available in all 50 U.S. states and over 26 countries, Mental Health First Aid aims to improve public knowledge of mental health and substance use challenges through an evidence-based training curriculum. Ruth believes in the power of teaching people across the community – such as educators, coaches, and public safety officers – how to identify and intervene when someone may be facing a mental health challenge or crisis. Ruth has personally taught this program to myriad groups across New Jersey – from museum employees, to probation officers, to healthcare providers. By increasing public knowledge of non-medical intervention techniques and available professional resources, Ruth and her fellow trainers are placing power in the hands of everyday people to prevent a crisis before it occurs and to respond effectively if it does. Most importantly, Ruth teaches her Mental Health First Aid students that, though we may not all be licensed professionals, we all have the ability to reduce stigma and increase awareness by walking alongside a neighbor or friend in need.