The Record: Removing stigmas

22 May 2014 In the News No Comments

From – May 22, 2014

People with mental illness have to deal with two challenges: the illness itself and the societal stigma often placed on them. Yet there may be a light at the end of this tunnel as communities begin to publicly acknowledge that they can do better with regard to the mentally ill.

That’s where initiatives like Stigma-Free Zones come in. When a municipality so declares itself, it agrees to a public education campaign about mental illness complete with resource kits and other activities. The effort also includes professionals urging residents with mental health symptoms to talk about them. That helps break down what often is a wall of separation between those with mental illness and the rest of society.

As Mary Ann Uzzi, the chairwoman of the Paramus Mental Health Awareness Task Force, put it, “It’s an illness just like any other illness.”

Paramus was the first town in Bergen County to declare itself a Stigma-Free Zone. Fair Lawn has followed suit and the Bergen County freeholders were expected to do so as well Wednesday night. Seven other towns in the county are considering the idea.

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