MORRIS TOWNS WORKING TOGETHER TO PROMOTE TREATMENT AND RECOVERY FOR MENTAL ILLNESS AND ADDICTION
The Netcong Council has passed a resolution declaring the borough Stigma-Free, making the total 32 of Morris County’s 39 towns, along with hospitals, schools, nonprofit agencies, and law enforcement groups that have joined the countywide “Stigma Free’’ initiative.
The overriding goal is to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and to get people into treatment – no questions asked.
“Thanks to initiatives such as Sheriff James Gannon’s Hope One mobile unit, Netcong has worked toward being a Stigma-Free community,’’ said Netcong Mayor Joseph Nametko.
“I am proud our Borough Council passed the resolution making Netcong an official Stigma-Free Borough. With this designation, we will work with our local organizations to insure we live up to the Stigma-Free title,’’ he added.
Netcong is the newest member of a less-than-two-year-old grass roots movement that recognizes the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders in our communities.
The Stigma-Free initiative promotes re-education and understanding that can lead to treatment and recovery – minus the stigma associated with these illnesses.
“Bringing our entire county community together with a concerted and united effort to help affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal, is quite a remarkable accomplishment,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana.Netcong joins a vast majority of Morris County municipalities that have signed on as Stigma-Free communities. Leaders of this movement from across the county are now working with school districts and faith-based groups to become active participants.
In addition to Netcong, other Stigma-Free towns are Boonton, Boonton Township, Butler, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, Chester Borough, Chester Township, Denville, Dover, East Hanover, Hanover, Jefferson, Lincoln Park, Long Hill, Madison, Mendham Borough, Mine Hill, Montville, Mount Olive, Morris Plains, Morristown, Morris Township, Mountain Lakes, Parsippany, Pequannock, Randolph, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township, Roxbury, Victory Gardens, and Washington Township, plus Morris County.
“It is support shown for this Stigma-Free initiative by towns like Netcong, and Mayor Nametko and the Council and their residents, that can make this grass roots effort succeed,’’ said Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, the board’s liaison on Stigma-Free issues.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders in 2016 passed a resolution designating Morris County as a Stigma-Free County, joining an already established movement as a partner.
A Stigma Free websitewww.morriscountystigmafree.org provides a members-provided wealth of 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, schools, and faith-based communities.
Here are a few of many voices in Morris County supporting the initiative:
Chester Borough Mayor Janet Hoven: “Mental illness and drug abuse touch the lives of many, not only in Chester Borough, but in all of society. No one should feel less of a person regardless of an illness or addiction. We support the initiative and hope that through this program, all residents will feel accepted and supported by all.’’
Chester Township Mayor Marcia Asdal: “We understand that mental illness and addiction affect every community, and we know that no family or school or business is immune.’’
Morris Plains Mayor Frank Druetzler: “It is important to understand the difficulties for individuals and families of dealing with mental illness and substance abuse, how these illnesses can destroy lives and families. The Stigma Free initiative is an important countywide step to help move people towards recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal.’’
Hanover Mayor Ronald F. Francioli. “As a stigma-free community, we want individuals to feel free to seek help and rehabilitation without fear of judgment or reprisal.’’
As part of the countywide initiative, residents are urged to take the Stigma Free Pledge: https://morriscountystigmafree.org/take-the-pledge/
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.