RANDOLPH, NJ - New signs will go up throughout Randolph announcing support for the Morris County Stima Free program. These signs read “Randolph Proud To Be Stigma Free” and will be posted at the municipal building, library and the nine entrances to the township.
While the council passed a proclamation in October joining the movement, they worked with the Municipal Alliance Committee to design and produce the signs over the past few months.
Since the initiative began, Randolph has provided several programs “educating about mental health awareness trying to eliminate stigma associated with mental health,” said Township Manager Stephen Mountain, “and get people comfortable talking about it, as well as giving them opportunities and information on how to address any concerns they may have in their family or community members.”
“Stigma Free” in Morris County refers to the stigma towards mental health and addiction that prevents residents from seeking out help.
“Stigma means that people like to keep it hush...and brings you back to the old days of ‘let’s just hide it and sweep it under the rug,’” said David Timpanaro, member of the MAC, “We want people to be not out and proud users, but out and proud getting help. We want them to know that Randolph is a safe place.”
Council members asked if a timeline or expiration date existed to take down the signs, and Councilman Loveys responded, “As long as we’re a stigma-free community.”
Councilman Mike Guadagno commented he was not for the signs without a time limit, believing they would “open a Pandora’s Box,” and he “can think of a dozen other place that could have signs… 10 years from now we see that sign there and I don’t know if that makes sense,” he said.
The council did unanimously approve the signs with the condition of review after five years or when the county ends the program.
During public comments, resident Josh Weiner added, “I don’t think the sign should be specifically contingent on the continuation of the countywide program… We’re the Township of Randolph, and we should not do it just because the county’s doing it or other towns are doing it, but because it’s in the best interest of everyone in the town.”
Timpanaro mentioned his 16 years of experience in the mental health field and suggested the council review the statistics for morris county and “stigma-related issues such as mental health awareness, substance abuse, suicide, bullying prevention, because they all tie in and all connected to stigma.”
Visit www.morriscountystigmafree.com for more information on the initiative.