21 TOWNS NOW ENROLLED IN COUNTYWIDE EFFORT TO END STIGMA RELATED TO MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS
The Butler Borough Council and the Morristown Town Council both have passed resolutions to declare their towns Stigma-Free, making them the 20th and 21st towns to join the Morris County “Stigma Free’’ initiative that aims to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
Butler and Morristown join recently announced participants Chatham Borough, Mendham Borough, 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 Public Schools recently became the first K-12 District in Morris County to enroll in the initiative.
“We are thrilled to be part of this grass roots movement to help the residents of our town and county seek the programs and services they need to recover from mental illness and addiction,’’ said Butler Mayor Bob Alviene. “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.’’
“By becoming a Stigma-Free community, the Town of Morristown will continue to move forward in effort to raise awareness of local resources that can be provided to those with mental health issues and substance abuse,” stated Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty. “I hope that this designation will help those who are affected seek the assistance they need without fear of judgment.”
We are really heartened by the support shown for this Stigma-Free initiative by towns like Butler and Morristown, and by so many health providers and nonprofit agencies, and our county residents,’’ 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.
Here are some other voices supporting the initiative:
Mendham Mayor Neil Henry: “We’ve all been affected by mental illness in some way and becoming Stigma-Free is the first step in fighting this disease as a community. 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: “With this program, we can continue to teach people about mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and erase the stigma attached to them. “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. “Regardless of the spectrum, we all know or have people in our lives who face these challenges. I’m proud to join the growing number of municipalities that pledge to work toward a more understanding and accepting community for all.”
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.
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.