Whippany Park and Hanover Park High Schools Join Countywide Effort to End Stigma Related to Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders 


The Board of Education of the Hanover Park Regional High School District, which serves high school students from Florham Park, East Hanover and Hanover Township, has passed a Stigma-Free resolution, formally joining the countywide effort to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance use disorders. 


Hanover Park Regional, which includes Whippany Park High School and Hanover Park High Schools, joins 35 Morris County towns, plus school districts, law enforcement, nonprofit agencies, hospitals, and faith-based groups in the Stigma-Free initiative. 


“Hanover Park Regional High School District, a ‘National School District of Character,’ continues to support the Stigma-Free effort through its character education initiative and core values: Caring, Citizenship, Fairness, Respect, Responsibility, Trustworthiness,’’ said Hanover Park Regional Superintendent Carol Grossi.  


“As we practice these values in our school communities, we are able to heighten everyone’s awareness in understanding others who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues. We continue to support our students with the many challenges that confront them during their adolescent years by showing them how they can help themselves by helping others.”


The three-year-old grass roots Stigma-Free movement 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. 


As part of the countywide initiative, residents are urged to take the Stigma Free Pledge: https://morriscountystigmafree.org/take-the-pledge/


The Morris County Board of Freeholders in 2016 passed a resolution (joining several towns that had initiated the movement), designating Morris County as a Stigma-Free County and asked all of the county’s towns to consider enrolling.


“We are pleased that Hanover Park Regional has formally joined the Stigma-Free initiative,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, who has been the county governing board’s liaison to this effort.


“The students and staff at the two high schools already have been leaders in the Stigma-Free effort, and we look forward to their continuing energy and support in this initiative to help affected people seek recovery, without fear of stigma or reprisal,’’ she added.


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, schools, colleges and universities, and faith-based organizations.  


For information on the disease of mental illness, visit www.nami.org and for information on NAMI’s national Stigma Free effort, visit: https://www.nami.org/stigmafree

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