WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Founded in the fall of 2016, the Woodland Park Stigma Free Task Force is comprised of residents, health care providers, educators, business owners, officials, clergy, law enforcement, first responders and others working together to increase community awareness surrounding mental health.

The task force offers information, education, assistance and support to those who are living with or suffering from mental illness as well as individuals who are impacted by mental health disease.

Leading the task force are co-chairs Tracy Amato and Jacyn Luker. Amato is an emergency room nurse trained in crisis intervention, and both are involved with the Board of Health.

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This year, the group is planning a color run during Suicide Awareness Week, which is Sept 9-15, and a candlelight vigil on World Mental Health Day, Oct. 10, at Dowling Gardens at 6 p.m., where residents can light a luminary in honor of someone they lost to suicide and/or mental health related deaths. More details will follow.

The group has been working on outreach in the community, getting its pamphlets and decals in to local business, and will be at the Woodland Park summer kick off concert June 15 and Woodland Park Day on June 16. New volunteers are always welcome.

Members also recently took part in the “Stop the Bleed” program by St. Joseph’s Hospital, which helps bystanders become trained and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before first responders arrive. “Stop the Bleed” classes are being planned for residents of Woodland Park as well. Details will follow.

Follow the task force at www.facebook.com/wpstigmafree to keep up on the group’s events.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Woodland Park Stigma Free Task Force would like residents to know that help and resources are available to them 24/7.

Millions of Americans suffer from mental health disorders. But help is available. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. More than 19 million are affected by each year. Major depression affects 9.9 million in any given year, and bipolar disorder, or manic depression, affects about 2.3 million. In addition, millions suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia.

Taking a screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. To take an online screening visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools?ref=MHAPassaic.

In you need help, 24 hour emergency services are available from the St Joseph’s Hospital mobile psychiatric emergency screening unit (703 Main St., Paterson) at 973-754-2230. A number of hotlines are available for adults and youth.

  • Info Line – 211
  • Passaic County Women’s Center (24 hours) - 973-881-1450
  • Contact Morris-Passaic - 973-831-1870
  • Strengthen Our Sisters (women’s shelter) - 973-728-0007
  • Child Abuse Hotline (DYFS) - 1-800-792-8610
  • Parent 24 Hour Stress Line - 1-800-843-5437
  • Post-Partum Depression Hotline - 1-800-328-3838
  • NJ Veterans Helpline-Mental Health Services - 1-866-838-7654
  • Youth Hotline (24 hours) - 1-888-222-2228

If you need more information or referral for services, contact the Mental Health Association in Passaic County at 973-478-4444. Visit www.mhapassaic.org for a full list of available resources and services.