Posted Tuesday, November 29th, 2016



The Hanover Township Committee has voted to become the seventh Morris County “Stigma Free’’ municipality, joining the countywide effort to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.


Hanover joins Boonton, Denville, East Hanover, Jefferson, Madison and Rockaway Township as Stigma Free communities.

The Board of Freeholders this spring passed a resolution designating Morris County as a Stigma-Free County and asked the county’s 39 towns to enroll.

“Hanover Township is proud to join Morris County and other communities in standing up against stigmatizing individuals with mental illness and substance abuse disorders,’’ said Hanover Mayor Ronald F. Francioli.  “As a stigma-free community, we want individuals to feel free to seek help and rehabilitation without fear of judgment or reprisal.

“I’d like to thank the township’s Substance Awareness Council and the Township Committee for helping to make this bold initiative a reality in Hanover Township.’’

hanover-twp The county Department of Human Services has created a Stigma Free website to call attention to the initiative and to help direct people suffering from those illnesses and additions to available help and services. A Stigma Free Toolkit also has been created. Check it out.

Stigma-Free Communities aim to inspire public interest and open dialogue about stigma, raise awareness of mental health and substance use disorders and create a culture in which residents with mental health and substance use disorders feel supported by their community and neighbors,’’ said Deputy Freeholder Director Hank Lyon.

The World Health Organization ranks mental health conditions, including alcohol and substance use disorders, as the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.Stigma 2

One in four adults experience a diagnosable mental disorder each year and one in 17 adults live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Yet more than half will not seek or accept help.

The reason may be that despite its prevalence in our society, mental health still has stigma attached to it.

Morris County’s goal in creating a Stigma Free initiative is to disseminate information and foster a stigma-free environment where people are free from judgment and can get the help they need to recover.

View this Stigma Free video.

As part of the initiative, residents are urged to take the Stigma Free Pledge:

  • As a supporter to those who have a mental illness or substance use disorder, I understand the importance of recognizing the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • I also know that when recognition is coupled with reeducation and understanding, health-seeking action can be taken. These actions lead to recovery, which is possible for everyone.
  • The Three R’s (recognize, reeducate and reduce) depend on each other to effectively Stamp Out Stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • This is what I, as an individual, charge myself to do—to fully Stamp Out Stigma and clear the path to health-seeking behavior. It begins with me.

Get more information on the disease of mental illness from NAMI  or visit NAMI’s national Stigma Free site.

Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace which results from the judgment by others. When an individual is labeled by their illness they experience judgment and prejudice. Stigma brings experiences and feelings of shame, embarrassment, distress, hopelessness and reluctance to seek or accept help.