Posted Thursday, January 19th, 2017


Morris County Stigma-Free logoThe Morris Township Committee last night voted to become the tenth Morris County “Stigma Free’’ municipality, following similar approval this month in Rockaway Borough, as both towns join the countywide effort to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

Morris Township and Rockaway Borough join Boonton, Denville, East Hanover, Hanover, Jefferson, Madison, Morris Plains, and Rockaway Township as Stigma Free communities in Morris County.

The Board of Freeholders in 2016 passed a resolution designating Morris County as a Stigma-Free County and asked the county’s 39 towns to consider enrolling.

“Rockaway Borough is a loving and caring community. We don’t judge or stereotype,’’ said Rockaway Borough Mayor Russell Greuter. “It is our hope and commitment to make a difference in our community by fighting the stigma related to substance abuse and mental health. If we can make a difference in at least one person’s life, we have done a good job.” Rockaway Boro entrance sign

It is important that we, as a community, do everything we can to take away the stigma of mental illness and substance abuse in order to get our neighbors the help they need,’’ said Morris Township Mayor Bruce Sisler.  “There is always hope. I’ve seen it first-hand. Morris Township is an understanding community. We are proud to join with Rockaway Borough in leading Morris County in its efforts to improve the quality of life of those individuals that so desperately need our love and support.’’

Morris County has created a Stigma Free website to call attention to the initiative, provide information and resources, and a calendar of upcoming events related to mental illness and substance abuse. A Stigma Free Toolkit also has been created.Township of Morris entrance sign

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.

“This is an important effort to help all of us understand the problems facing individual residents and families in our county who have to deal with mental illness and substance abuse, and how these illnesses can destroy their lives,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “This Stigma Free initiative is an important step in helping affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal.’’

Freeholder Doug Cabana

Freeholder Director Doug Cabana

“We also understand there is no big government solution to these problems; that it requires a grass roots movement in our towns and schools and businesses to make this work, so we thank Morris Township and Rockaway Borough for joining this countywide effort and urge all of the 39 towns in our county join,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.

 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.

For more information on the disease of mental illness, visit and for more information on NAMI’s national Stigma Free effort, visit:

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.