Health & Wellness

North Plainfield Becomes First Somerset County Town to Designate Stigma Free Zone


NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Back in January, resident Mark T. Williams addressed the Borough Council and proposed launching a Stigma-Free Zone initiative ‘to reduce the stigmas typically associated with mental illness through education, open conversation and advocacy.’ The idea was well received by the seven-member council with a resolution to create a North Plainfield Stigma Free Zone approved unanimously at a public meeting last month.

“Our goal is for residents to feel more comfortable, and for them to know that they are safe from judgment, can get the services they need and that we, as a community, have a better understanding of mental illness and how it affects our residents,” said North Plainfield Council President Larry La Ronde.

According to Williams, the development of a Stigma-Free Zone in North Plainfield will help ‘create a more compassionate and knowledgeable community where we see the person and not the illness.’

Sign Up for E-News

“One in five adults experiences a diagnosable mental illness every year (NAMI) and many of these individuals do not seek help because of fear, shame or judgment from friends, family and co-workers,” said Williams, an adult psychiatric mental health nurse and 25-year resident of the borough. “As a mental health professional, I know that far too many people suffer alone rather than seek help due to the stigma that so often accompanies mental health diagnoses.”

La Ronde agrees. “Passing this resolution will raise awareness of local mental health resources and provide more of a comfort zone for those who may suffer from a mental health issue,” he said. “Oftentimes, individuals fail to seek the help they need due to the stigma associated a mental illness disease. By passing this resolution, we hope to better inform and foster an environment where people are free from judgment, do not have to feel hopeless or alone, and are more comfortable seeking the help they need.”

The Stigma-Free Zone campaign was founded in 2012 by former Governor Richard Codey and his wife Mary Jo and is currently the educational arm of ‘The Codey Fund for Mental Health.Community initiatives are also currently present in both Bergen and Morris counties. Looking to launch the initiative locally, Williams presented the idea for the campaign to North Plainfield leaders in December 2016. The proposed ‘Sigma-Free Zone’ initiative was then placed on the council’s Jan. 23 meeting agenda and approved upon second reading at the Feb. 13 meeting.

Passage of the resolution in the borough gives North Plainfield the distinction of being the first Somerset County community to designate itself as a Stigma-Free Zone. “We are hoping the county will also pass a resolution claiming Somerset County as a Stigma-Free Zone and that other municipalities will do the same,” said La Ronde.

Locally, the Campaign for a North Plainfield Stigma-Free Zone’s steering committee – which includes Williams along with fellow borough residents Kidy Nathalla Pena, Casey Sobel, Lara Rinaldi and Kate Riegel – will lead the initiative guided by a Stigma-Free Campaign Municipality Toolkit. The committee will create a community program that will utilize state and federal resources, neighborhood events and printed materials to inform and educate the community. 

Partnerships, said Williams, will also be established with schools, community groups, borough leaders, the police, healthcare workers, faith-based organizations and others who are most likely to come into contact with someone having mental health concerns.

“Efforts to engage community organizations as partners are already bearing fruit,” said Williams.

The North Plainfield Citizens for Community Rights (NPCCR) is scheduled to host a North Plainfield Stigma-Free Zone Campaign kick-off at their regularly scheduled April meeting. It will be held Tuesday, April 6 at the North Plainfield Community Center, 614 Greenbrook Road, beginning at 7 p.m.

“Creating community ambassadors will be key to disseminating information that will reduce stigma and result in more people seeking help,” Williams said. “We invite the residents of North Plainfield and surrounding communities to join us and become Stigma-Free Zone Campaign ambassadors.”

Overall, said Williams, the mission of the Stigma-Free Zone campaign is to ‘ensure that people have access to compassionate, quality mental healthcare and that the barrier of stigma so often associated with mental illness is overcome through public awareness and education.’

“Here in North Plainfield we can provide safe spaces for our neighbors; we can inform and educate spaces filled with myths and misinformation; we can empathize and increase hope in spaces filled with hopelessness; and we can listen to gain trust in spaces filled with distrust,” Williams said.

Residents seeking additional information about the North Plainfield Stigma-Free Zone campaign can contact Mark Williams at

TAPinto North Plainfield, Green Brook and Watchung is free and published daily; sign up to get all the news as it happens at and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @tapintonpgbw



TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung

Missing in Warren: Have You Seen Jax?

March 22, 2018

WARREN, NJ - Have you seen Jax? Jax is a young Husky missing from the Reinman Road area on Thursday afternoon.

His family says, “Our dog ran out of the yard. He is a husky and less than a year old. Very friendly and responds to Jax. Please share and contact me if you see him! Thank you so much 😞 he does not like cars by the way!”

Contact Colby ...

Holy Savior Academy Storm Varsity Basketball News

The Holy Savior Academy Storm Varsity basketball team concluded a very successful season by capturing two championships over the weekend.  The Storm continued the basketball program’s winning ways when the team captured the school’s fourth consecutive Diocese of Metuchen CYM Varsity White Division Championship on its home court on Saturday evening.  The team then secured the ...

Weekend Ideas in Somerset County, Plus Easter Egg Hunts

March 23, 2018

Things to do in Somerset County: 

Weekend 3.23 to 3.25

1. 5k Race to Wellness, Duke Island Park

2. A Virtual Tour of the Moon, Duke Farms

3. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? – Opening Weekend, Villagers Theatre

4. KidPreneurs, Bridgewater Commons

5. Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny, Theatre at RVCC

6.  Ahoy Mate! A Voyage ...

Travel Fun - Senator Cory Booker is Bested by Senator Jeff Flake in a Snowball Fight on Capital Hill

WASHINGTON, DC - Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Cory Booker of New Jersey had a spirited snow ball fight in front of Capital Hill.  This combines multiple things that we like at TAPintoTravels.  It includes extended work travel, a great tourist city, and two grown men having fun.

Is it immature?  A little. Is it funny?  Definitely.

The sad part is Cory got bested by ...

The Perfect Travel Pack - The Airport Repack Because of a Delayed Flight - What You Really Need

If you have traveled a lot, you have had a canceled flight.  Do you know how to do an airport in such cases?

Well, on a recent canceled flight on Norwegian Air from Berlin to New York, we had to do it.  Our experience is now your gain.

The slide show above shows you step by step, how it was accomplished.  Here we will explain it.

For starters, think about your ...

Air Travel Alert - 1,810 Area Flights Canceled for Wednesday - Check Here For Survival Tips in this Fourth Nor’easter

Whenever there is inclement weather, it pays to keep informed. Wednesday, March 21, 780 flights from Newark and 440 from JFK are already canceled.  LaGuardia canceled 590.  In other words, you are probably snowed in today.

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight delays.  Make sure to sign up for them.  That will ...

Will Your Air Travels Be Impacted by Our Fourth Nor’easter (Fourth? Is it the End?)

After three Nor’easters, you would think we could catch a break. They do say the fourth one is always the best.  This time, we should be very well practiced.

By now, you know the drill. This article has advice on local and airline support services. You may want to bookmark the page for future reference. 

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight ...

Local Travel Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day - Calm Family Events to Drinking Shots from...Nevermind

St. Patrick’s Day is coming upon us even faster than St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.  Here are some of the areas great events to celebrate Irish pride.

March 17 Events

Hoboken - The Nerds at Willie McBride’s (see poster up in the slide show)

Newton - Sober St. Patrick’s Day Gathering

Newton (parade) - Sussex County St. Patrick's Day ...

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

March 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Giving no details on location and time, New Jersey State Police plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, March 17 in the area of Belmar and Neptune Township,

The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...


South Plainfield - Joseph G. Zekas, 90, passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at The Willows at ...
Read more

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, March 30, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, April 6, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Sat, April 14, 7:00 PM


Support Watchung Hills Project Graduation: SIP ...

Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy 5K and Family Fun Walk

Health & Wellness

Tue, June 12, 7:00 PM

FairBridge Hotel and Conference Center, Somerset

SPHS Class of 1968 50the Reunion


AAA Cautions: Daylight Saving Could Affect Daily Commute

March 10, 2018

WARREN, NJ - AAA is reminding drivers that the change to Daylight Saving Time may create distractions on the roadway and challenges for drivers who lost an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday at 2 a.m.

“As we spring forward, drivers should be aware that the time change will also mean changes to driving habits,” said Robert Sinclair, Manager of Media ...

Freeholders Endorse Armed Security in all Somerset County Schools

March 23, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Following the Parkland, Fla school shooting last month in which 17 students and staff were killed, Somerset County Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione and Freeholder Mark Caliguire Thursday announced that the freeholder board will fund a second armed school resource officer at the county Vocational & Technical High School in Bridgewater, and urged every school ...

Warren Township Republican Municipal Committee Endorses Mayor Victor Sordillo and Deputy Mayor Gary DiNardo as Republican Candidates for Warren Township Committee

WARREN, NJ - The Warren Township Republican Municipal Committee unanimously supported and endorsed Mayor Victor Sordillo and Deputy Mayor Gary DiNardo as Republican Candidates for Warren Township Committee, it was announced earlier this week.

When asked about his decision to continue to serve Warren, Sordillo said, “I could not imagine waking up and not doing something to better ...