News & Events

Mountain Lakes, Roxbury, Washington Twp, and Saint Clare’s Health Join Initiative

Mountain Lakes, Roxbury and Washington Township have joined the Morris County “Stigma Free’’ initiative, and the Mendham Borough Council is expected to approve a resolution on Thursday to make Mendham the 18th town in Morris County to join the countywide effort to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

In addition, Saint Clare’s Health held a major Stigma-Free Celebration last week to mark its “commitment to end discrimination and negative attitudes towards mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders.’’ Check out the video:

Also, the town of Sparta in Susex County has joined the initiative as the first Sussex County town to do so.

In Morris County, Mendham, Mountain Lakes, Roxbury, Washington Township join 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 as Stigma Free communities in Morris County.

Washington Township seal“I am pleased the township has taken this step to become Stigma-Free, and that we are part of an ever- growing group of police agencies and towns in Morris County that support this initiative,’’ said 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.’’

“One in four adults experiences a diagnosable mental illness every year and many of these individuals do not seek help because of fear of shame or judgment from friends, family and coworkers,” said Brian Finestein, chief executive officer of Denville Hospital and Saint Clare’s Behavioral Health centers. “As one of the state’s leading providers of behavioral health services, it is our responsibility to help spur this stigma-free movement forward.”

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.Roxbury Township seal

Morris County has created 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.

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.

Freeholder Doug Cabana

Freeholder Doug Cabana

“We are really heartened by the support shown for this Stigma-Free initiative by so many towns and health providers and 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.’’

These additions to the Stigma-Free community occur as the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s “Knock Out Opioid Abuse’’ Town Hall series comes to Morris County tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 17) at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany. It will give county residents a chance to join an informal conversation on the national epidemic. The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Mountain Lakes seal

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 Free Morris County: Mountain Lakes, Roxbury, Washington Twp, and Saint Clare's Health Join Initiative


For more information on the disease of mental illness, visit and for more information on NAMI’s national Stigma Free effort, visit:

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.

NewBridge Services Offers Community Members Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

NewBridge logoMental illness affects an estimated one in five adolescents, yet less than half of preteens and teens with disorders get treatment. A 2015 national survey of high school students found that 18 percent has seriously considered attempting suicide during the prior year.

“Mental illness is treatable, and adolescents like adults can recover or learn ways to manage their condition and enjoy fulfilling lives, but the first hurdle is recognizing the problem,” said Mary Vineis, NewBridge Services Director of Community Response and Education.

Beginning in July, NewBridge will offer free evidence-based Youth Mental Health First Aid training sessions for adults who regularly interact with young people. Thanks to a $12,000 grant from Morris County, NewBridge will provide six eight-hour sessions through the end of the year that teach family members, caregivers, educators, youth leaders and others how to help children ages 12 to 18 who have a mental illness or addiction problem, or who are in crisis.

While it’s normal for adolescents to feel anxious about new experiences, mental disorders can seriously affect how a child feels, thinks and acts, Vineis said. Recognizing the difference between normal growing-up behaviors and mental disorders is crucial. Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens ages 15 to 19.

Youth Mental Health First Aid introduces participants to common mental health challenges experienced by adolescents and reviews teenage development. The course teaches a five-step action plan for helping adolescents in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD), and eating disorders are among the topics that will be covered.

To find out more for an upcoming session, please contact Vineis at or 973-686-2228.

Saint Clare’s Health Joins the Stigma-Free Movement

Saint Clare’s Health is proud to join a stigma-free movement, which aims to end discrimination and negative attitudes towards people living with mental or substance abuse disorders. Hear from some of our courageous clients who speak about the importance of breaking the stigma, so that individuals or families who are struggling can seek help without shame or fear of discrimination or judgment. At Saint Clare’s Health, we welcome you as you are.

“This is the First Mother’s Day Without My Son”

Governor Christie unveiled the newest video in his ReachNJ campaign, which features Pam, a New Jersey state worker and mom who lost her son to a drug overdose a few months ago.

The ReachNJ campaign, announced in Governor Christie’s State of the State address, has included a television commercial, radio ads, digital ads, and billboards. All are designed to alert the public to the website and helpline 1-844-ReachNJ which connect those impacted by substance use disease with a variety of services and resources where they can get the help they need.

Why write about caregiving?

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward book coverAuthor Mark Lukach describes why he writes about caregiving and mental health:

But there is one feeling that’s unnecessary: the loneliness, and in my time supporting my wife, I’ve never felt more lonely. In times of crisis we tend to wall ourselves away from each other because we’re too afraid to talk about what we’re experiencing. In all of my internet searching, it felt like I was the first husband who had to take his wife to the psych ward, because no one out there was talking or writing about it.

Read Author Mark Lukach on Why He Writes About Caregiving.

NAMI Walks – Join the Team!

NAMI Walks - Building Better Lives! May 13 at the Seaside Park Boardwalk. Checkin at 9, Walk starts at 10am!

Join the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) NJ for NAMIWalks New Jersey on May 13 at Seaside Park! Help raise funds and awareness, and enjoy performers and exhibitors. Proceeds help to provide free programs of support, education, and advocacy for all those coping with a mental illness and their families.

Join the Morris County Team – team walk captain Gail Schafran at

NAMIWalks NJ flyer. Event is May 13 at Seaside Park. Checkin is at 9, walk starts at 10!

23rd Annual Public Forum – “Celebrating You” – on June 12

23rd Annual Public Forum for Consumers and Families
5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Frelinghuysen Arboretum
Haggerty Center
353 East Hanover Ave.
Morristown, N.J. 07960

Join us for an interactive evening that includes:

  • A Forum for public comment from you on the local human service system – What is working and what could be done better?
  • Personal stories of wellness and recovery
  • Presentation of the Terri Belske Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award
  • Music and entertainment
  • Community resources, local connections and information on wellness activities
  • Light supper

This forum is for consumers and family members, public officials, providers and advocates. For more information, please call Laurie Becker at 973-285-6852.

Governor Christie: Addiction Knows No Bounds, It Does Not Carefully Choose Its Victims

Governor Chris Christie addressed more than 1,200 state and national leaders in addiction prevention and recovery at the recent New Jersey Prevention Network’s 17th Annual Addiction Conference. The conference educates prevention & treatment professionals about critical issues surrounding substance use. Governor Christie stressed the need to destigmatize, prevent and treat the disease of addiction with a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach.

Taking HOPE on the Road

The HOPE ONE van, parked on a street in MorristownThe Morris County Sheriff’s Office Community Services Unit, in partnership with the Morris County Department of Human Services, the Mental Health Association of Morris County, Morris County Prevention is Key and their Center for Addiction Recovery Education and Success (CARES), launched “HOPE ONE” on April 3, 2017.

“HOPE ONE” is a mobile recovery access center vehicle that travels twice a week to different locations throughout Morris County to meet with and provide critical support for individuals struggling with addiction, with the goal of preventing drug overdoses and deaths.  “HOPE ONE” is staffed with a Morris County Sheriff’s Officer, licensed clinician and a certified peer recovery specialist who understand the needs of those suffering from addiction are able to provide clients immediate access to services and treatment facilities, leading them on the road to recovery and wellness.  In addition, Narcan training and kits are provided to family members and friends of those suffering with Opiate addiction.

3 members of the HOPE ONE staff, set up in a tent outside of the vanHOPE One is a vehicle that was previously utilized during tactical operations.  All law enforcement logos and lights have been removed from the vehicle.  The exterior now has a purple ribbon to signify recovery and “HOPE ONE” is inscribed within the purple ribbon.  A 24 hour contact number for Morris County CARES is on the vehicle along with the “Stigma Free” logo.

This brand new approach delivers services in a unique way, blending law enforcement and social services to bring HOPE into communities.  To allow for more interaction and the ability to connect with individuals suffering from addiction, the HOPE ONE mobile recovery access center travels to different communities within Morris County, the vehicle parks and sets up refreshments in an effort to encourage those in need of services to approach the vehicle.  Providing a comfortable, stigma free setting has allowed this program to effectively make contact with and provide services to individuals who have had difficulty navigating the journey of accessing appropriate services in the past.

Some locations that HOPE ONE will be travelling to in the near future are:

5/1/17, 9a-2p
Our Lady Star of the Sea
204 Espinong Rd
Lake Hopatcong (Jefferson)

5/4/17, 9a-2p
Madison Train Station
Lincoln Place

5/8/2017, 9a-2p
Trinity Church
Mercer and Blackwell Streets

Cast Your Vote in the NJ Mental Health Poetry Contest!

News from NAMI NJ:

NAMI Poetry contest logo. Vote for your favorites by May 31!

We thank all the poets, NAMI NJ friends and families for getting those amazing poems to us for the 2017 NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Mental Health Poetry Contest. This year’s theme is “the process or processes you use to help you make it through the tough times.”

We received many worthy entries. After multiple rounds of careful reading, we finally selected the Top Ten Poems. The judging criteria consisted of:

  • Using the theme of mental health
  • The way the subject matter was handled
  • Originality
  • Style

NAMI NJ members and friends are now called on to VOTE ONLINE and help us pick the Top Three Poems. Support our poets and cast your vote by Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

All poems entered into the contest will be showcased on NAMI NJ’s Poetry Corner webpage in the coming months.

Thank you for your participation. Enjoy the poems!