Thursday, October 12th, 2017

COUNTYWIDE INITIATIVE TO END STIGMA RELATED TO MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS

The Randolph Township Council this week passed a resolution to declare the township Stigma-Free, making it the 24th town to join the Morris County “Stigma Free’’ initiative that aims to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

Morris County Stigma-Free: Randolph Joins Initiative -- 24 Towns Now Participating

Stigma-Free Morris County poster

This grass roots initiative recognizes the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders in our communities, and promotes re-education and understanding that can help lead to treatment and recovery – minus the stigma associated with these illnesses.

“I am very happy that Randolph has joined the Morris County Stigma-Free initiative,’’ said Randolph Mayor Christine Carey.  “This initiative recognizes that the stigma associated with mental illness, including substance abuse disorders, has been identified as the primary reason individuals fail to seek help.  We want to create a culture in our community that supports our residents in asking for help and in seeking treatment.”Morris County Stigma-Free: Randolph Joins Initiative -- 24 Towns Now Participating

Randolph joins a majority of Morris County municipalities that have signed on as Stigma-Free communities.

Other Stigma-Free towns are Boonton, Boonton Township, Butler, Chatham Borough, Denville, Dover, East Hanover, Hanover, Jefferson, Long Hill, Madison, Mendham Borough, Montville, Morris Plains, Morristown, Morris Township, Mountain Lakes, Parsippany, Pequannock, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township, Roxbury, and Washington Township, plus the Montville Township School District.

“This initiative is an important step in helping affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “But it is only support shown for this Stigma-Free initiative by towns like Randolph, and their officials and residents, that can make this grass roots effort succeed.’’

Morris County Stigma-Free: Randolph Joins Initiative -- 24 Towns Now Participating

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.

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.

Here 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.’’

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.’’

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.

Pequannock Mayor Melissa Florance-Lynch: “I am thrilled that the Township of Pequannock has joined the Morris County Stigma-Free initiative. 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.”

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.’’

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.’’

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 information on the disease of mental illness, visit www.nami.org and for 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.