Stigma Free Zone News of NJ - December Edition Out Now!

Stigma Free Zone News of NJ - December Edition Out Now!

Volume XXXXl l December 2019


Bringing the Mental Health Conversation to New Jersey

We report on an initiative of volunteers, nonprofits, schools, libraries, hospitals, First Responders, and houses of worship working independently or with local government to make NJ free from the stigma of mental illness. Anyone can form a local SFZ Task Force, no permission required. Just pledge to "do something about mental illness."

Bergen County Is Declared A NationalTeen Mental Health First Aid Training Pilot Site

Program Sponsored by Lady Gaga’sBorn This Way Foundation & the National Council for Behavioral Health

Hackensack, N.J. – Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and the Board of Chosen Freeholders recently congratulated the county’s Division of Mental Health Services (DMHS) for working to make Bergen County a national pilot site for teen Mental Health First Aid training.  Bergen County is the only location in NJ and one of 35 sites across the country to be selected to participate in this pilot project. 

The year-long in-person training teaches h.s. students about common mental health challenges and will equip them with knowledge and skills necessary to foster their own wellness and to support and help others. This initiative comes at a pivotal time given NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s new law requiring schools to incorporate mental health education into the state’s standard curriculum. Teen MHFA is an evidence-based model which schools may use to fulfill the Governor’s mandate. The Teen MHFA pilot project has been launched in Fort Lee High School. 

The County Executive and Freeholders extended their sincere thanks to the Superintendent of Fort Lee Schools, Ken Rota, and the Fort Lee High School staff who worked collaboratively with the DMHS to make this project possible. To be eligible for the pilot, 10 percent of school staff must have been certified in youth mental health first aid – Fort Lee far exceeds that number. 

“Congratulations to Fort Lee High School for recognizing the importance of mental health and taking the initiative to help children in need,” said County Executive Tedesco. "Now that all 70 municipalities have taken steps to address mental health awareness, it is important that we start teaching our children about mental health first aid so they can lead happier, healthier lives. I want to thank Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for this funding and their willingness to work with Fort Lee H.S. on this important teen mental health first aid initiative.”

Teen MHFA is an in-person training for students grades 10 to 12 to learn about mental illnesses, including how to identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem among peers. Students learn a 5-step action plan to help friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide, and highlights the importance of involving a responsible and trusted adult.

?Addressing the mental health needs of teens is critically important. Half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and three-quarters by the mid-20s. Left unaddressed, mental health issues can lead to serious consequences for a young person, including increased risk of dropping out of school or experiencing homelessness. Tragically, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds. 

Visit The Born This Way Foundation

Visit The Teen MHFA Website

Governor Codey Brings Stigma Free Signs to Newton

By Jennifer Dericks

The Town of Newton recently passed a resolution designating the town Stigma Free. Last week Governor Richard Codey and Julie Bannon of the Codey Fund for Mental Health met with Newton Mayor, council members, and township officials, along with Newton Superintendent, Kennedy Greene, and Newton Police Lt., Robert Osborn, to present the lime green... Stigma Free signs.

Read the entire story on Tap Into Newton

African American Community NOW Is Offering New Support Groups

Northern Jersey Group

2nd Wednesday of the month 6:30pm-8:00pm

St. Matthew A.M.E. Church 336 Oakwood Avenue, Orange, NJ 07050

Contact Shanee at (732) 940-0991 ext. 117

Central Jersey Group

3rd Thursday of the month 7:00pm-9:00pm

First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens

771 Somerset St., Somerset, NJ 08873

Contact Donna at (732) 940-0991 ext. 117

Southern Jersey Group

3rd Tuesday of the month 6:30pm-8:30pm

(In Dec. it will be on the 2nd Tuesday)

Alpha Baptist Church

15 Rose Street, Cares Bldg., Room #6, Willingboro, NJ 08046

Contact Winifred at (609) 265-0746

Young Adults Society

Young Adult Society is a social group that offers

recreational activities to young adults aged 21 to 35

who have mental health concerns. This group provides opportunities

for social interaction. Activities are selected by its members.

Transportation will be provided by the participants and their families.

Youth Adult Society is a place where you will find acceptance and friendship. For more information, contact Winifred at (609) 265-0746.


Nami Program Coordinator: Lisa Powell at (732) 940-0991 ext. 117

Impacting Holiday Season Loneliness

By NJPRA Board Member, Dave D'Antonio

It is the time of year to remind ourselves to reach out to those around us.

The Holiday Season means joy, happiness and celebration for most. Yet, there are many around us who experience deepened feelings of loneliness and isolation during this time of year.

There is no greater pain for a human being than that of being alone. Loneliness and isolation pose a greater health risk than smoking, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and the side effects of medication. For these reasons that we want to be sure to reach out to those around us who may be lonely or isolated.

Loneliness is not reserved only to the people we serve but also our friends, neighbors, family and community. Anyone can be a victim of loneliness and isolation. Please check in with your persons served, elderly family members, the person you see in the hospital who never seems to have visitors, neighbors and be sure they are OK. A brief five minute conversation can make a world of difference to a person experiencing loneliness.

And remember it is not always the quiet person who is lonely. Many people, including our coworkers or neighbors who may appear to be social can experience feeling of loneliness and isolation. So if you have thought about calling someone to say "hi", thinking a person served needs a little extra attention, or your coworkers seems a little down, don’t walk on by, do something. You and the person you reach out to will be rewarded by your action.

A Few Smiles From The Twitter

Sami Sorad of Mt. Laurel, NJ

Raised $6,000 for SW NJ Mental Health Association Through the Move for Mental Health Fundraiser

You go, gurl

A Stigma Free Shout Out to all of 2019's Amazing Donors:

The Strong and the Brave Wendy Sefcik - Remembering TJ

Lisa Gladwell, Godwinker - NJ Recovery Advocates

Nancy Labov, The Wind Beneath AIR: Alumni In Recovery

Paula Tedesco, Generous SFZ Ambassador

Jay Yudof, Steadfast Mental Health Educator

Rebekha Leon, Dedicated Stigma Free Supporter

CarePlus NJ - Best Care in Town

NJAMHAA - Fearless Advocates, All

The Tireless and Passionate Heart of Debbie Wentz

The Remarkable Codey Fund for Mental Health

The Hard-Working Bergen County Mental Health Board Peeps

Kindly Andrea & Herb Ouida - The Todd Ouida Foundation

Stigma Free Force, Joanne Green- MHA in Passaic County

Mark Williams, Mental Health Donor Extraordinaire

Mary Ann Uzzi - The Beloved Founder of The Stigma Free


Lois Hallock, My Sainted Mother Who Believes in Me

Special Thanks to Careplus NJ Foundation for holding SFZ News donations safely in Trust.

Onward to a STIGMA FREE NJ in 2020!