News & Events

“We are in this Together” Virtual Concert, Stories, Community Dinner — June 10

Mental Health Especially Challenged During Current Health Crisis

As the COVID-19 pandemic has taken lives and created economic chaos, it has created great stress on the mental health of many of our residents — an issue that will be part of the focus of the “Break the Stigma Virtual Music and Community Dinner” planned for all Morris County residents on Wednesday June 10.

The virtual event will featuring more than a dozen performers, story tellers, and featured speakers starting at 3 p.m.

The goal of this countywide event is to help lift the stigma of mental illness and substance use disorder, while building a strong and healthy community. It is particularly aimed at county residents may be struggling through this COVID-19 crisis.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, please visit the Morris County Stigma-Free website and check for COVID-19 resources.

“We are in the Together’’ is a coordinated effort of numerous organizations from across Morris County who are members of the county’s Stigma-Free Communities Initiative, which focuses on issues of mental health and substance use.

Included are Morris County’s LIFE Center Stage, Prevention is Key, Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris, Pequannock Township Coalition, and the Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES).

June 10 Events:

3 p.m.: Concert/Stories– Visit PreventionisKey.CARES Facebook page.

5 p.m.,  Zoom Breaking Bread & Breaking Stigma panel discussion and Q & A. You must register for the panel event.

The 3 p.m. event will feature the following Breaking Stigma performers:

COVID-19: Help Available to Morris Residents for Anxiety and Stress Due to Current Crisis

May is Mental Health Month — Please Seek Help If You are Experiencing Difficulty

As Morris County residents continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, with many workplaces and all schools closed, anxiety continues to rise. The Essex and Morris Mental Health Association contends it is vitally important during this very unusual time to take care of ourselves physically and mentally.

It is especially appropriate to raise this issue as we enter May, which is Mental Health Month across our county, state and nation.

Please, don’t try to go it alone. 

New Jerseyans feeling the emotional and mental toll of COVID-19 can call 1-866-202-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support. NJMentalHealthCares will be answered by live trained specialists 7 days a week, 8am – 8pm.

Also, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services or SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support.

The MHA of Essex and Morris has compiled a list of tips and resources to assist individuals and families with self-care.

Ways to Cope

  • Connect with family and friends by phone, e-mail, or social media.
  • Partake in activities that are soothing: take a warm bath; practice deep breathing; cook comfort foods.
  • Distract yourself by doing activities that keep you busy: gardening; doing artwork. Listen to music and watch comedy movies that will make you laugh and lighten your mood.
  • Limit your news and media intake.
  • Go out in the fresh air and take a walk. Walking is one of the best exercises to help mitigate anxiety.
  • Keep a schedule and stay as close to your typical routine as possible. This will help you to have a sense of control and bring some normalcy to your day.
  • Remember that THIS WILL COME TO AN END as every other pandemic that has ever happened in history has and that your lives will return again to normal.

Mental Health and COVID-19 Resources

  1. Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus
  2. Mental Health Resources
  3. Online Recovery Meetings
  4. Resources for Arts & Entertainment
  5. Educational Resources
  6. Resources for Health & Wellness
  7. Faith Based Resources
  8. Building Resilience Now and Beyond COVID-19

Visit Mental Health America for more guidance for yourself or loved ones during this pandemic.

COVID-19: Mental Health Support is Available — Talk to Professionals for Free

Don’t Go It Alone!

The stress of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, whether it be medical, economic, or familial, is taking a toll on the mental health of many Morris County residents.

Mental health experts say that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

If you are concerned about the mental health of someone you care about, NJ. Mental Health Cares offers free telephone counseling, emotional support, information, and assistance — all confidential.

Morris County residents can call 866-202-HELP (4357) to speak to a trained specialist from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Also, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services or SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support. The Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris has compiled a list of tips and resources to assist with self-care.

  • Connect with family and friends by phone, e-mail, or social media.
  • Partake in activities that are soothing: a warm bath; deep breathing; cook comfort foods.
  • Distract yourself with activities that keep you busy: gardening; artwork; music and comedy movies to make you laugh and lighten your mood.
  • Limit news and media intake.
  • Get outside and take a walk. Walking is one of the best exercises to help mitigate anxiety.
  • Keep a schedule and stay as close to your typical routine as possible.
  • Remember that THIS WILL COME TO AN END and that your lives will return again to normal.

Mental Health and COVID-19 Resources

  1. Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus
  2. Mental Health Resources
  3. Online Recovery Meetings
  4. Resources for Arts & Entertainment
  5. Educational Resources
  6. Resources for Health & Wellness
  7. Faith Based Resources

Also, NewBridge Services offers excellent advice. Visit them online to get help on how not to panic during this crisis.

How Not To Panic

  • Take deep calming breaths and exhale slowly
  • Limit your exposure to graphic news stories
  • Get accurate, timely information from reliable sources
  • Maintain your normal routine as much as possible
  • Eat well and rest
  • Stay active physically and mentally
  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Find comfort in spiritual and personal beliefs
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Share concerns with others
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption

COVID-19: Caring for Your Mental Health During This Unprecedented Crisis

MHA of Essex-Morris and NewBridge Services Offer Assistance

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to climb and with workplaces and schools closed, anxiety is on the rise. It is important during this time, to take care of ourselves physically and mentally. As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week, “we have to find some peace” in dealing with this situation for an extended time.

For those who are struggling, you can find assistance online site or by phone. For example, NJ Mental Health Cares, the state’s behavioral health information and referral service, has set up a helpline for people dealing with anxiety and worry.

Morris County residents can call 866-202-HELP (4357) for free, confidential support.  NJ Mental Health Cares will be answered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week by live trained specialists.

Also, you can Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services or SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

The Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris has compiled a list of tips and resources to assist individuals and families with self-care.

Ways to Cope

  • Connect with family and friends by phone, e-mail, or social media.
  • Partake in activities that are soothing: take a warm bath; practice deep breathing; cook comfort foods.
  • Distract yourself by doing activities that keep you busy: gardening; doing art work. Listen to music and watch comedy movies that will make you laugh and lighten your mood.
  • Limit your news and media intake.
  • Go out in the fresh air and take a walk. Walking is one of the best exercises to help mitigate anxiety.
  • Keep a schedule and stay as close to your typical routine as possible. This will help you to have a sense of control and bring some normalcy to your day.
  • Remember that THIS WILL COME TO AN END as every other pandemic that has ever happened in history has and that your lives will return again to normal.

Mental Health and COVID-19 Resources

  1. Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus
  2. Mental Health Resources
  3. Online Recovery Meetings
  4. Resources for Arts & Entertainment
  5. Educational Resources
  6. Resources for Health & Wellness
  7. Faith Based Resources

Also, NewBridge Services is offering some excellent advice on dealing with the situation. Visit them online  to get help on how not to panic during this crisis. Some tips from NewBridge:

How Not To Panic

  • Take deep calming belly breaths and exhale slowly for a minute
  • Limit your exposure to graphic news stories 
  • Get accurate, timely information from reliable sources 
  • Maintain your normal routine as much as possible 
  • Eat well and rest 
  • Stay active both physically and mentally 
  • Stay in touch with family and friends 
  • Find comfort in your spiritual and personal beliefs
  • Keep a sense of humor 
  • Share your concerns with others 
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption

COVID-19 And Mental Illness, NAMI Releases Important Information

From NAMI:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, released a guide to answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between Coronavirus, or COVID-19, and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers and loved ones.  Read the guide!

“We recognize that people living with mental illness face additional challenges dealing with COVID-19, as do their caregivers and loved ones,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. “That’s why we are releasing an information and resource guide with FAQs on a variety of topics from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing healthcare and medications. NAMI is here to help.”

For more updates on mental illness and COVID-19, visit NAMI’s regularly updated webpage.

Heroin and Opioid Art Exhibition: Artist Calls

From Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey:

5th Annual Heroin and Opioid Art Exhibition

The Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division and the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, in conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, The Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse along with the Ammon Foundation invite you to participate in the 5th Annual Heroin and Opioid Art Exhibition highlighting heroin and opioid abuse, addiction and recovery.

Deadline to submit: April 27th, 2020

Cash Prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and Honorable Mention

For more information please visit: drugfreenj.org/HeroinArtExhibit

“Suicide: The Ripple Effect” film

Q&A and Discussion on the topic will follow the film

A presentation of the documentary film “Suicide, the Ripple Effect,” will be shown Feb. 18 in Madison.  The film focuses on the devastating effects of suicide and the tremendous positive ripple that effects of advocacy, inspiration and hope that are creating to help millions heal and stay alive. It will be followed by a question and answer session and discussion.

The event is Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Drew University’s Ehinger Center, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison. Admission is free and the public is invited. The film is appropriate for ages 10 and up. For parking and directions, visit drew.edu/maps. For more information about the Feb. 18 event, email bboetticher@drew.edu. Download the flyer here: STRE Flyer.

The feature-length film chronicles the story of Kevin Hines, who at age 19 attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then, Kevin has been on a mission to use his story to help others stay alive and find recovery.

The event is sponsored by a trio of Drew University Civic Scholars, Brittany Boetticher, Katie Cashin and Hannah Winter, and is a continuation of Boetticher’s Girl Scout Gold Award program, when she organized events to show the film in Jefferson Township.

The countywide Morris County Stigma-Free initiative is focused on removing the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse, to foster a climate of healing and recovery.

The primary reason people fail to seek the help they need is due to the stigma associated with the disease of mental illness. Main reasons cited are shame and fear of judgment from friends, family and co-workers. Such judgment is often rooted in a lack of knowledge or training.

Morris County is committed to disseminating information and fostering a stigma-free environment where people are free from judgment and can get the help they need to recover from diseases such as mental illness and substance abuse.

Prosecutor’s Office Participates at “A Night of Conversation – From Prescription to Addiction” at Lakeland Hills YMCA

On November 19, 2019, Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, Senator Anthony M. Bucco, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Lakeland Hills YMCA CEO Dr. Vik Joganow, and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury, presented on how the heroin and opioid epidemic is affecting New Jersey residents. The program was held at the Lakeland Hills YMCA in Mountain Lakes. Representatives from Morris County Sheriff’s Office’s Hope One, Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health and other substance abuse recovery providers were onsite providing information and education. About 30 audience members attended the presentation, including local high school students.

Prosecutor Knapp stressed that this epidemic does not escape any community, and insight imparted to attendees is intended to start community conversations in their households and upcoming Thanksgiving tables. The epidemic touches everyone, according to the Prosecutor.

Senator Bucco discussed the need for additional state funding to fight addiction and to secure more treatment facilities.

Sheriff Gannon discussed his Office’s Hope One program, a mobile recovery access vehicle which offers support for persons struggling with addiction, and medically-assisted treatment programs available at the Morris County Correctional Facility. Twice a week, Hope One travels to locations throughout Morris County with a Sheriff’s officer, a licensed clinician, and a peer recovery specialist to recovery services.

CAP Seabury noted that since 2014, at least 342 people in Morris County have lost their lives to heroin or prescription drug overdoses. CAP Seabury discussed the Overdose Prevention Act and Drug Court program, criminal justice measures to treat and not just incarcerate individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders.

Kate Garrity provided the audience with a heartfelt, firsthand story of how the Epidemic has affected her life. She shared the tragic story of her son who passed away in 2016 from an overdose, as a way to both keep his memory alive and to help inform the community that it can happen to their children whether they believe it will or not.

Prosecutor Knapp said “The heroin and opioid epidemic continues to be a scourge on the citizens of New Jersey. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, in partnership with other stakeholders, will continue to combat this epidemic through our various initiatives and our strong focus on educating the public.”

Inquiries concerning this press release should be directed to Public Information Officer Meghan Knab at mknab@co.morris.nj.us or pressinquiry@co.morris.nj.us or by phone at 973-829-8159.  

“Despite My Diagnosis…” Stigma Story by CCM Features Editor Michelle Walsh

The Youngtown Edition (the school newspaper of the County College of Morris) is working with two other CCM clubs this semester, Active Minds and Writers Club, on a series about students in the process of recovery. This series is called “Despite My Diagnosis.” Read one of these stories, by CCM Features Editor Michelle Walsh:

Michelle WalshAs a child, I yanked my shoelaces until the aglets broke, and couldn’t tolerate wearing anything with buttons, zippers, etc. Doctors were clueless that I was struggling with anxiety.

OCD has accompanied me for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would look at road signs and add the digits to make an even number. Early on, I learned I could find control in the law abiding, unwavering solidity that is math.

After starting middle school, I quickly inherited different forms of eating disorders and self-harm, ultimately leading me to spiral. Whatever I tried, these different vices only gave the illusion of control.

One of the most disastrous coping skills I inherited was dissociation. Dissociation was a coping skill brought on by the introduction of the heaviest antidepressant I was on. Being on a near toxic dose made me feel as if I was a voyeur to my own life. Alongside this, I was involved in several car accidents, one including the totaling of 2 cars and several visits to court.

Cycling out of centers and hospitals, a vast array of labels and corresponding medications were given to me like candy. From Attention Deficit, Borderline Personality, Generalized Anxiety, Unipolar and Bipolar, I was medicated with anything they thought could give me relief.

It wasn’t until I reached Princeton House wherein they correctly diagnosed me with CPTSD and OCD, and therefore placed me into a trauma-based program. I quickly learned that trauma was the root of all my suffering.

I was also placed on medication that saved my life. Currently, I am still searching for the ideal combination of therapy and medication.

Struggling with mental illness has led to me becoming an advocate for others and myself. I found myself recently within a group that hushed me when I spoke of my traumas. From this, I unearthed that silence begets silence and that we are losing if we choose to stay silent in the face of egregious action. I continued following my passion, and have cultivated a life I am proud is mine.

Irregardless of my achievements, my OCD is never satiated. I still struggle with an achievement equals worth mindset, despite countless therapies and medications. I’ve made peace that my mental illness and I must coexist for me to exist.

The scars left behind are representative of a battle I choose to fight every day, and show that relentless hope overpowers relentless mental illness.

Break the Stigma – Start a Conversation!

From Life Center Stage:

Help us Break the Stigma and inspire hope! Please share this video and start a conversation!

On June 22, 2019, a festival dedicated to “Breaking the Stigma” was held on the Morristown Green. The festival was aimed at inspiring hope through the sharing of personal stories of recovery from substance use disorder and/or mental health. The community members performed original songs and cover songs related to their stories to raise awareness. Alternative community activities such as drumming, yoga, and interactive art, mask-making and a “I AM” photo shoot were available inviting the community to connect with one another. Six courageous and amazingly talented people shared their stories of recovery from substance use disorders, depression, boarderline personality, postpartum depression, eating disorders, and anxiety to help break the stigma that prevents far too many from seeking help. There is hope! Don’t give up!