NEWTON, NJ—The Town of Newton has been declared a Stigma Free Town.  The town council took action at their meeting last week following a request by councilman Matthew Dickson, asked the council to consider writing as resolution for Newton to become a Stigma Free Town.

Dickson had petitioned the council a few weeks ago to consider a resolution to create the designation, Stigma Free, joining a number of other towns in the county to have done so.

The resolution which acknowledges that “one in five Americans have experienced some sort of mental illness according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  [and that] despite major accomplishments and the progress achieved, New Jersey must still overcome significant challenges before it can reach the goal of making quality mental health care available to all those who need it.”

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According to SAMHSA, mental health problems are more common than cancer and heart deceased combined and the Newton resolution states that, “more than half of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans hospitalized in VA hospitals are treated for mental illness according to the Veterans Administration. The stigma associated with mental illness is the biggest roadblock to recovery”.

The Town Council members said that by declaring the Town of Newton a Stigma Free Town, Newton is showing their support for the elimination of stigma that is associated with mental illness and will promote public awareness of mental health issues and work to overcome the stigma, stereotyping, discrimination, and removing any barriers to recovery.

The resolution concluded by saying that road signs will be erected on major thoroughfares in and out of the town municipality showing the establishment of a Stigma Free Town.  

Mayor Helen LeFois and the rest of the council thanked Dickson for “bringing this issue to their attention and are happy to see the resolution pass.”