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Make Your Town Stigma-Free

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Bergen County STIGMA-FREE Initiative is a county-wide program initiated in 2014 which aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. We are dedicated to raising awareness about mental illness and creating a culture in which residents who have the disease feel supported by their community and neighbors and feel free to seek treatment without fear of stigma. You may ask...

What is Stigma?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace which results when an individual is labeled by their illness and they experience judgment and prejudice of others. Stigma brings experiences and feelings of shame, embarrassment, distress, hopelessness and reluctance to seek or accept help. As a result, stigma is the primary reason individuals do not seek help when they experience symptoms of mental illness.

Is your town Stigma Free?
If your town is lime green, then Yes! If it's grey, you can be the change!

Declaring your town as Stigma Free will:
  • Educate residents that mental illness is a disease and must be treated as such
  • Raise awareness of the prevalence of mental illness in our community
  • Provide residents an opportunity to become involved and acquire additional social support within their community
  • Provoke public interest in learning what "STIGMA-FREE" is and start the conversation
  • Allow people living with the disease to feel supported by their community and thus decrease feelings of isolation and shame
  • Link people in need to local mental health resources
  • Raise awareness that care is accessible regardless of income.
Once your town is Stigma Free, there are many ways you can get involved, collaborate with your friends, neighbors, and local businesses to decrease Stigma and promote Mental Health Wellness in your community!

For more information on the Stigma Free Initiative/Toolkit and Mental Health First Aid Course, please go to: www.co.bergen.nj.us/1242/STIGMA-FREE-Zone.