HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – Recognizing the need to remove the barrier of negative judgement for those in need of mental health services, Hunterdon County has reached the goal of having every single municipality join the “Stigma Free In ’23” campaign, according to Commissioner Jeff Kuhl.
Last year, in response to rising mental health challenges across the county and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hunterdon County Commissioners allocated an additional $300,000 for mental health services and Commissioner Kuhl, the Human Services Department liaison, announced the goal for all municipalities in the county to approve local resolutions establishing their communities as Stigma Free by 2023.
Kuhl said, “I am proud to announce that, following the County’s lead, all 26 municipalities in the County have now approved Stigma Free resolutions. It is often said that the best way to prevent violence is to get there with mental health services before there is a problem. One of the most daunting barriers for individuals seeking mental health assistance, however, is the labelling, the negative judgement of others, and the prejudice stigmatizing those in need of help.”
“The Stigma Free campaign aims to create greater public awareness of and having the public become better educated about the negative effects of stigma, towards the goal of creating stigma free environments in the home, the workplace, at school, everywhere. My Board colleagues join me in being most appreciative of our local officials in all twenty-six municipalities in Hunterdon County that have truly stepped up to join the effort,” Kuhl said.
Hunterdon County municipalities join this campaign at a great time, since May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. Annually, throughout the month of May, there is a national movement to raise awareness about mental health. It’s an important opportunity to educate the public on the stigmas associated with mental health and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the U.S. affected by mental illness.
Director for the Department of Human Services, Meagan O’Reilly said, “Stigma is a common barrier for people seeking mental health and substance use services. We are elated that every municipality in Hunterdon County has declared to be stigma free. We could not have accomplished this task without the assistance of our Commissioner Liaison, Jeff Kuhl, we thank him for his efforts to make Hunterdon County Stigma Free by ‘23.”