Can a Box of Crayons Replace a Governor’s Passion?

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A single local New Jersey mom and a box of crayons set out to carry on Governor Codey’s dream for improving mental health.

As outgoing Acting Governor Codey formally delivers his second State of the State address today, he reaffirms his biggest accomplishments were in the area of mental health and he just wishes he had more time to continue his work.

Janet Werner, single mother of a young teen boy, successful trainer and consultant to New Jersey’s pharmaceutical executives, former co-founder of the Leadership Alignment Spa, and recent mental health consumer herself, has simple wisdom tools and solutions to carry on the Governor’s dream.

“Mary Jo Codey and her husband are heroes of mine. Her decision to go public with her personal journey has inspired me to do the same,” shares Ms. Werner. “On the very day he signed his mental health legislation into law, I was detained inside the adult care mental heath ward, and witnessed first hand the reasons why the Governor feels so strongly about improving the conditions there.”

Ms. Werner has, in over a decade of ground level experience, developed simple yet well researched tools and resources that address not only the needs of anyone enduring excessive stress but also the extreme instances that lead to a diagnosis of mental illness.

1 in 5 Americans will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Many will end up in state mental institutions with depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorders and many others.

“How we understand and treat metal illness has a long way to go to bring respect, honor and dignity to these consumers,” Ms. Werner continues. “The institutions are still in need of help, as Acting Governor Codey and his wife have so diligently brought to the public’s attention. I don’t want to see that legacy fade away. More is needed. Much more.”

While the Acting Governor made surprise inspections this past summer and spent a voluntary night on the ward at Graystone, Ms. Werner was in for 11 nights under involuntary ‘incarceration’ at Bergen Regional Medical Center.

She witnessed the power that the individual patient intelligence has in assisting their own recovery, if they are given the chance to express themselves with their own story and treated with a personalized dignity and respect.

Ms. Werner noticed that by providing everyday simple items like crayons and paper, playing cards and fun videos to watch, performing a morning session of yoga and Tai Chi moves, she personally was able to brighten the mood of the entire ward permanently during her ‘stay’.

All these simple tools, alone almost insignificant, combined to relieve and reduce the stress significantly. The patients noticed it and so did the staff. And the cost? Pennies on the dollar.

Steven Feldstein of Feldstein Financial Group, LLC in Chester New Jersey, a noted advisor to individual and institutional investors calls Ms. Werner a true visionary of our times. Just 9 days prior to her misdiagnosed internment, he introduced her to his private Business Roundtable investors club citing, "her compassion, courage and conviction make her someone we all should hope to emulate. Her story and the powerful simplicity of her tools are transformational.”

She herself has only recently been able to regain her sense of self-worth and composure after her ordeal at Bergen Regional. One can only imagine what it is like to be sane inside an institution for the insane.

To continue the work she performed while in the institution and to extend the Governor and Mrs. Codey’s legacy, she is asking for donations of crayons, drawing pads, sweat pants and jackets, board games, playing cards and small stuffed animals. (For a complete list go to

Ms. Werner is passionate in bringing awareness to the need for new original and innovative low cost solutions to assist the mental health community in New Jersey and the nation. Her program ‘Rethinking How We Think About Mental Health(sm)” is intended to do just that. She invites the Acting Governor and Ms. Codey, the Governor Elect and other state and local officials, including leaders from the Division of Mental Health Services, to join with her in carrying on what the Acting Governor began 14 months ago.


Mike Hayden

Integrated Excellence, Inc.


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