Health & Wellness

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

fe7f71f366982da32980_logo_NP_StigmaFRee2.jpg
fe7f71f366982da32980_logo_NP_StigmaFRee2.jpg

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 RNRE610@gmail.com.

TAPinto North Plainfield, Green Brook and Watchung is free and published daily; sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.tapinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TAPintoNPGBW and on Twitter @tapintonpgbw

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung

Thousands Expected for Sourland Music Festival

June 20, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The Sourland Music Festival will be held Saturday, June 23 from 3-10 p.m. at the Hillsborough Golf & Country Club at 146 Wertsville Road, rain or shine, to benefit the Sourland Conservancy.

Discounted advance-sale tickets are available online only, Children under 12 are admitted free.

“We’ve got a really powerful lineup of the region’s most ...

Third-annual Juneteenth Parade and Heritage Festival in New Brunswick this Weekend

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Vulcan Pioneers of New Brunswick, comprising the city's Black Fire Fighters Association, will host the Juneteenth Parade on Saturday, June 16 to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth celebrations are held across the country to mark the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865. That state was one of the last locations to learn of ...

Manutti Marina in Belmar: Top Choice for Boating, Fishing and All-Around Family Fun

BELMAR, NJ — It’s no secret that Belmar Manutti Marina ranks among the best boating destinations along the Atlantic coast.

Tucked along the eastern shoreline of the idyllic Shark River — just a five-minute trip by boat to the ocean — the state-of-the-art marina is a top choice among boaters looking to stay for the season, enjoy a vacation or spend the weekend.

In ...

Manutti Marina in Belmar: Top Choice for Boating, Fishing and All-Around Family Fun

June 12, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — It’s no secret that Belmar Manutti Marina ranks among the best boating destinations along the Atlantic coast.

Tucked along the eastern shoreline of the idyllic Shark River — just a five-minute trip by boat to the ocean — the state-of-the-art marina is a top choice among boaters looking to stay for the season, enjoy a vacation or spend the weekend.

In ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

June 18, 2018

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 8, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield, NJ – Margaret (Pascazio) Butfiloski, 99, passed away peacefully on June 2, ...
Read more

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM

Terrill Road Baptist Chruch, Scotch Plains

Terrill Road Baptist Church

WHRHS Athletics: Watchung Hills Names New Athletic Director

June 19, 2018

WARREN, NJ - The Watchung Hills Board of Education announced a new Director of Athletics at its meeting on Tuesday night to replace Chris Van Vliet who has resigned. WHRHS world language teacher, Dan Root was unanimously approved as the WHRHS Director of Athletics effective July 1.

“I’m excited to work with newly appointed athletic director Mr. Root,” said WHRHS head football ...

A Path Forward for Watchung Schools Set for June 25

 

WATCHUNG, NJ - A Path Forward for Watchung Schools, a listening forum for Watchung parents, residents, and teachers to communicate to make Watchung Schools great, has been set for Monday, June 25. 

 

Watchung has three leadership positions open: Superintendent, Principal of Bayberry School, and Chief Administrator. The listening forum will be hosted and moderated by ...

WHRHS Athletics: 30 Watchung Hills Student Athletes Commit to Play College Sports

WARREN, NJ - Some 30 student athletes from the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Class of 2018 gathered  in the WHRHS Media Center for one last Warrior team photo before reporting to their intended respective colleges or universities in the fall.

Columbia, Yale and Princeton, Stevens, Rensselaer and M.I.T. are among some 27 other Division I, II, or III colleges ...

North Plainfield Board of Education Recognizes Student Athletes

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The North Plainfield Board of Education had the opportunity to celebrate the victories of the district's distinguished student athletes at the last Board of Education meeting.  Brandon Smith, Daniel Duncan, Trevor Sullivan, and Edgardo Villafane represented the Boys' Indoor Track Team.  The team was victorious as the New Jersey North II, Group II ...

Watchung’s Rizzi Ties Record at Rotary Track and Field Meet, North Plainfield Middle School Dominates in Awards Tally

PLAINFIELD, NJ - With an overcast sky and pleasantly cool temperatures, young student athletes from area middle schools and one elementary school gathered for the 91st Annual Rotary Track and Field Meet, held June 6 at the Hub Stine Athletic Complex in Plainfield.

Vincent Rizzi, holder of the Meet high jump records for boys ages 12 and 13, tried valiantly to best the 14 year old boys’ ...

Thousands Expected for Sourland Music Festival

June 20, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The Sourland Music Festival will be held Saturday, June 23 from 3-10 p.m. at the Hillsborough Golf & Country Club at 146 Wertsville Road, rain or shine, to benefit the Sourland Conservancy.

Discounted advance-sale tickets are available online only, Children under 12 are admitted free.

“We’ve got a really powerful lineup of the region’s most ...

SCBP Biz Fest 2018 Draws Record Crowd

SOMERSET, NJ - More than 500 people attended Biz Fest 2018, Somerset County's ‘hyper-local’ trade show and networking event, on Thursday at the Imperia.

The Somerset County Business Partnership (SCBP) organized the event.  SCBP Vice President of Business Services Chris Edwards said that this year's Biz Fest was a huge success. 

"This has been ...