Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes has launched a yearlong Stigma Free Mercer campaign to combat stigma associated with mental illness and addiction and to support those who are impacted. Mr. Hughes and County employees gathered on May 1, 2018, the start of Mental Health Month, to sign a pledge calling for increased awareness and greater understanding of mental illness and addiction, with a promise to work to eliminate stigma and discrimination within the greater Mercer County community.
Why a Stigma Campaign?
Many Americans living with mental illness fight a tough battle against stigma. Countering the aura of shame and blame associated with mental illness is critical to everyone, especially to those who must identify the need for and seek mental health treatment and continue to live healthy and productive lives.
Studies show that people with mental illness get better, and millions recover completely, leading full and active lives. Stigma, however, prevents too many from seeking treatment necessary for improved mental health. Stigma has many faces: social isolation; labels like “psycho,” “schizo,” or “crazy;” and outright discrimination. These work to inhibit people with mental illness from getting the help they need.
Reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness is critical. Through the “Stigma Free Mercer” campaign, the County of Mercer intends to raise awareness about the impact of stigma on those experiencing mental illness and/or addiction, as well the impact on their families and other people in their lives. With our partner, NAMI Mercer, we strive to make Mercer County a stigma-free community.
Each of us can play a role in eliminating stigma and supporting those whose lives are affected by these conditions. However, addressing stigma takes a community wide, collaborative approach.
The County of Mercer invites you to sign an online pledge to help end stigma associated with mental illness and addiction. We encourage you to stand with those impacted by mental illness and addiction.
In addition, ask your local government to get involved. Mr. Hughes encourages all 12 Mercer County municipalities to adopt resolutions declaring their commitment to increasing awareness and understanding of mental illness and addiction and reducing stigma and discrimination.
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and the Mercer County Division of Mental Health have created toolkits for municipalities and schools as part of their continuing efforts to make Mercer County a stigma free place to live, work, and visit. These toolkits will help Mercer County towns interested in joining the Stigma-Free Communities Initiative to raise awareness of the local mental health and recovery resources available so that no resident needs to feel hopeless or alone.
Newsletters and Events
As part of the Stigma Free Mercer campaign, we will post monthly newsletters and articles on the County of Mercer’s website and host events throughout the county. These newsletters, articles, and events will provide information on mental illness and addiction and stigma associated with them, and will act as a way for county residents to connect and discuss their mental health and addiction illnesses and/or concerns.
For information about the Stigma Free Mercer campaign, its upcoming events, and how you may participate in them, or to share your experience with a mental health journey of your own or of someone you know, please contact Michele Madiou, Mercer County Mental Health Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-989-6529.
In addition, we encourage you to search social media for the hashtag #StigmaFree for Stigma Free Mercer information or use the hashtag when you share a story about stigma associated with mental health and addictions.
One person can change the way the world sees mental health.