Posted Thursday, March 16th, 2017
THIRTEEN TOWNS NOW ENROLLED IN EFFORT TO END STIGMA RELATED TO MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS
The Long Hill Township Committee has voted to become a Morris County “Stigma Free’’ municipality, making it the lucky 13th town to join the countywide effort to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
Long Hill joins the town of Boonton, Boonton Township, Denville, East Hanover, Hanover, Jefferson, Madison, Morris Plains, Morris Township, Parsippany, Rockaway Borough 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.
“Establishing Stigma‐Free communities will raise awareness of resources and encourage residents in Long Hill and across the county and region to engage in care as soon as the need is identified so recovery can begin, hope is inspired and tragedies are avoided,’’ stated the resolution approved by Long Hill Mayor Cornel Schuler and the Township Committee.
Morris County has created a Stigma Free website www.morriscountystigmafree.org 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 is available for towns and communities.
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. “The Stigma Free initiative is an important step in helping affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal.’’
“We know 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,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “We thank Boonton Township for joining this countywide effort and urge all 39 towns in our county to take a stand against stigma.’’
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.
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.
RESOLUTION: TOWNSHIP OF LONG HILL
RESOLUTION 17- 088 AUTHORIZATION TO JOIN MORRIS COUNTY AS A STIGMA FREE COMMUNITY
WHEREAS, the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with the Morris County Department of Human Services, supports the designation of Stigma‐Free Communities in every municipality, and;
WHEREAS, at their April 27, 2016 meeting the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution supporting the designation of Morris County as a Stigma‐Free Community, and;
WHEREAS, Morris County recognizes that one in four Americans has experienced mental illness, including substance use disorders, in a given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and;
WHEREAS, mental health problems are more common than cancer and heart disease combined, affecting children and adults, including more than half of our Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans treated at Veteran’s Administration hospitals, and;
WHEREAS, given the serious nature of this public health problem, we must continue to reach the millions who need help; and
WHEREAS, the stigma associated with the disease of mental illness is identified as the primary reason individuals fail to seek the help they need to recover from the disease, and;
WHEREAS, Stigma‐Free Communities aim to inspire public interest and open dialogues about stigma, raise awareness of the disease of mental illness and create a culture wherein residents who have the disease of mental illness feel supported by their community and neighbors and feel free to seek treatment for the disease without fear of stigma and;
WHEREAS, promoting awareness that there can be no “health” without mental health will break down barriers and encourage residents of all ages to be mindful of their mental health and ask for help when needed, and;
WHEREAS, local resources are available to treat the disease of mental illness so no one resident needs to suffer alone or feel hopeless, and;
WHEREAS, establishing Stigma‐Free Communities will raise awareness of resources and encourage residents to engage in care as soon as the need is identified so recovery can begin, hope is inspired and tragedies are avoided;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Long Hill Township recognizes the community needs and supports the efforts of the County of Morris in designating Long Hill Township as a Stigma‐Free Community.
Adopted by Township Committee on March 8, 2017.