Monday, September 4th, 2017

22 Towns Now Enrolled in Grass Roots Movement to Foster Treatment and Recovery for Mental Illness and Addictions

Stigma-Free Morris County posterThe Pequannock Township Council has passed resolutions to declare their town Stigma-Free, making it the 22nd town to join the Morris County “Stigma Free’’ initiative that aims to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

Pequannock Township joins recently announced participants Butler, Chatham Borough, Mendham Borough, Morristown, Mountain Lakes, Roxbury, and Washington Township as Stigma Free communities in Morris County.

Other participants are the town of Boonton, Boonton Township, Denville, Dover, East Hanover, Hanover, Jefferson, Long Hill, Madison, Morris Plains, Morris Township, Parsippany, Rockaway Borough and Rockaway Township

In addition, the Montville Publc Schools recently became the first K-12 District in Morris County to enroll in the initiative.

“I am thrilled that the Township of Pequannock has joined the Morris County Stigma-Free initiative,’’ said Mayor Melissa Florance-Lynch. “In one way or another, everyone is affected by problems of mental illness and substance abuse and we want people to know the community is here to help.”Pequannock Township Joins Morris County Stigma-Free InitiativePequannock Township Joins Morris County Stigma-Free Initiative

“It is support shown for this Stigma-Free initiative by communities like Pequannock Township, and by so many health providers and nonprofit agencies and our county residents, that can make this grass roots effort succeed, ’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “This initiative is an important step in helping affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal.’’

The Morris County 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.

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. Also, check the Stigma Free news and calendar site at https://morriscountystigmafree.org/news/

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.

Stigma Free RibbonHere are some other voices supporting the initiative:

Butler Mayor Bob Alveine: “We want to help save lives by encouraging people with addictions to come forward, to seek treatment without worrying about any stigma, and to embrace their efforts and encourage their recovery.’’

Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty: “I hope that this designation will help those who are affected seek the assistance they need without fear of judgment.”

Mendham Mayor Neil Henry: “Only by removing the perception of shame or embarrassment will we erase those feelings that prevent our neighbors, friends and family members from seeking help.

Washington Township Police Chief Jeff Almer: “This will make residents, as well as the police officers, more aware of the illnesses and work to create an environment where we can assist with wellness and recovery by providing needed support and resources.’’

Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley: “The Stigma Free Initiative is so important because it stresses that we become socially responsible for positive efforts to end discrimination of mental health and substance abuse disorders.’’

Dover Mayor James P. Dodd: “To truly change the way society views individuals with substance abuse and mental illness disorders we must change our language, attitude and be more compassionate.’’

As part of the countywide 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 www.nami.org and for more information on NAMI’s national Stigma Free effort, visit: https://www.nami.org/stigmafree

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.