The Chester Township Council has passed a resolution to declare the township Stigma-Free, making the total 30 of the county’s 39 towns that have joined the Morris County “Stigma Free’’ initiative, which aims to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
This grass roots initiative recognizes the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders in our communities. It promotes re-education and understanding that can lead to treatment and recovery – minus the stigma associated with these illnesses.
“We understand that mental illness and addiction affect every community, and we know that no family or school or business is immune, said Chester Township Mayor Marcia Asdal. So Chester Township is proud to join the Stigma-Free initiative in Morris County, to help encourage people in our community their friends or family members or colleagues in trouble to seek treatment that could help lead them to recovery.’’
Chester Township 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, Chatham 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 and the Montville Township School District.
“This initiative is an important step in bringing our entire county community together with a concerted and united effort to help affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “Support shown for this Stigma-Free initiative by towns like Chester Township, and their officials and residents, that can make this grass roots effort succeed. Thank you Chester Township!Stigma-Free Morris County poster
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, and urging all of the county’s 39 towns to join the movement.
There is a Stigma Free website 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.
The goal of this grass-roots 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 just a few of the many voices in Morris County supporting the initiative:
Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty: “I hope that this designation will help those who are affected seek the assistance they need without fear of judgment.”
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.”
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.
Lincoln Park Mayor David Runfeldt: “The issues of dependency and mental health affect all of us in our communities one way or another.”
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.