DENVILLE, N.J.- Using improvisational theater, the Mental Health Players teach their audiences to recognize the signs, symptoms and stigma suffered by people with mental illness by creating real-life scenarios of their interactions with family members and their community.

The group will perform THIS THURSDAY, May 23 at 7 p.m. at St. Francis Residential Community, 122 Diamond Spring Road, Denville. The event is free, but registration is required.

Email rosaelenaklingener@primehealthcare.com or call 973-625-7095.

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Mental Health Players is a group of volunteer actors who are trained to depict realistic scenarios. Their role-play performances provide audiences with a dynamic way to receive basic education about depression, dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety.

The goal is for family members, care givers, community members and professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and to challenge the accompanying stereotypes and stigma.

For the last 30 years, the Mental Health Players have performed at agencies, professional conferences, partial care facilities as well as many colleges and secondary schools.

Audiences consist of all ages and diverse memberships, averaging over 2,000 people annually. The program is presented by Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.

The program is a natural fit in Stigma-Free Morris County, where 33 towns, county government, hospitals, some school districts, the County Sheriff and Prosecutor, and many non-profits have joined the countywide Stigma-Free initiative. The Mount Arlington Borough Council recently passed a resolution to join the movement, and several more of the county’s 39 towns are considering joining.