The Mendham Township Committee has passed a resolution declaring the township Stigma-Free, making the total 34 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 with substance abuse disorders. The goal is to get people who need help into treatment programs.
“We are planning to address a wide range of challenges, from substance abuse and mental health to supporting individuals with special needs,’’ said Mendham Township Committeewoman Amalia Duarte.
“We want to be a welcoming community and make sure all families feel included and supported,’’ said Duarte, who is leading the Stigma-Free effort for Mendham Township.
Duarte said Mendham Township plans to work with neighboring Mendham Borough on the Stigma-Free initiative (Mendham Borough passed a Stigma-Free resolution in 2017) and create joint programs and activities to highlight the issues of mental illness and addiction.
“Mendham Township is pleased to join so many other towns in promoting mental health and encouraging a Stigma-Free community,” said Mendham Township Mayor Rich Diegnan.
“Mental illness is a serious public health concern.
“Research shows us that there is significant overlap in those with substance abuse disorders, as they also suffer from other mental health disorders,’’ he said. “We can continue to fight stigma through meaningful conversations with one another and increasing awareness of these difficulties that so many people face. I am proud that Mendham Township has taken the pledge to be stigma-free.”
As part of the countywide initiative, residents are urged to take the Stigma Free Pledge: https://morriscountystigmafree.org/take-the-pledge/.
Mendham Township is the latest member of a less-than-two-year-old grassroots movement that recognizes the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders in local communities. The Stigma-Free initiative promotes re-education and understanding that can lead to treatment and recovery – minus the stigma associated with these illnesses.