Local news- Press Release
☷ Somerset County New Jersey - Somerset County Proclaims May 2022 as “Stigma Free Month”
Somerset County , state New Jersey ( By Press Release office)
SOMERVILLE , NJ
– The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed May 2022 as “Stigma Free Month” as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month at their April 26 meeting . Always an important program to reduce the stigma residents with mental health conditions face , Stigma Free Somerset County has become even more vital with the increased need for both mental health services and public education due to the COVID pandemic .
“Living with mental health conditions or substance use disorders is challenging in the best of times , but when you also face stigma for these medical conditions it can make seeking help almost impossible , ” said Commissioner Paul Drake , liaison to the Somerset County Department of Human Services . “Somerset County is committed not only to providing mental health services for those who need it , but also in educating the public on how to be , and encourage others to be , Stigma Free . ”
Somerset County Commissioners Doug Singleterry and Paul Drake present the May is Stigma Free Month proclamation to Mental Health Coordinator Meg Isbitski and Stigma Free Somerset County advocate Mark Williams .
The national Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that twenty percent of Americans are living with a diagnosable mental health condition in any one year , meaning that almost 70 , 000 of our Somerset County friends , family and neighbors may need support or treatment . Somerset County provides mental health services through its Mental Health Board , Richard Hall Community Health & Wellness Center , and by funding numerous programs through local non - profits and medical providers .
Somerset County initiated its Stigma Free campaign –
wareness - - in 2017 to raise awareness of the tangible impact mental health stigmas have not just on those with a diagnosable condition , but also on the community at large . The campaign initially partnered with municipalities , educational facilities , and faith - based organizations to provide education and train advocates to expand the movement .
With the increased need for mental health and substance use services due to the isolation and stress of the COVID pandemic and Hurricane Ida , the Department has increased its efforts in 2022 .
In March 2022 the County launched the “Make Your Business Stigma Free” campaign with the Somerset County Business Partnership and Downtown Somerville to include retail stores and major employers . On the first day of the campaign more than two dozen businesses signed the Stigma Free Pledge , placed the campaign sticker with a QR code leading to the Pledge on their windows , and agreed to run their businesses stigma free and encourage their fellow business owners to do the same .
On May 13 from 10 a . m . to 2 p . m . , Stigma Free Somerset County will hold its first annual Stigma Free Conference at the North Plainfield Community Center . The Conference will be educational for anyone interested in learning more about mental health issues and available services , whether professionals , community leaders , residents who have or know someone with a mental health condition , or anyone interested in becoming a Stigma Free advocate . Registration and more information is available online at
https://www . eventbrite . com/e/stigma - free - somerset - county - mental - health - conference - registration - 288640580747
“This first annual Stigma Free Somerset County conference is a big step in advancing the cause of destigmatizing mental health conditions and substance use issues , and getting people the appropriate and effective health care they need , ” said Mark Williams , a founding advocate for Stigma Free Somerset County . “With 20 percent of Americans having a diagnosable mental health condition , we all know someone who needs help and I encourage everyone to come to this conference and learn about the incredible resources that are available . ”
Presentations will include Suicide Prevention and the new 988 Hotline , how to find services in Somerset County , how mental health issues can be different for youth or in multicultural communities , and the many pathways to recovery . Several non - profits and organizations will also be on hand to provide information on their services and help direct any residents who are looking to access mental health care for themselves or a loved one .
To find information on Somerset County’s Stigma Free campaign , or to sign the pledge as an individual or business , please use the following links .
Stigma Free Information and Toolkit:
http://soconj . gov/stigmafreepledge
Stigma Free Pledge for Individuals:
http://soconj . gov/i - stigmafreepledge
Stigma Free Pledge for Businesses:
http://soconj . gov/b - stigmafreepledge
For more information on Stigma Free Somerset County or to get involved , reach out to Meg Isbitski , Somerset County ' s Assistant Mental Health Administrator , at
stigmafree@co . somerset . nj . us
or 908 - 704 - 6300 .
Somerset County Board of County Commissioners
Somerset County is governed and managed by the Board of County Commissioners . The Board consists of five members with one or two elected each year in November in the general election , and they each serve three - year terms . Commissioners serve as liaisons to all divisions in the county .
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