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Stop The Ignorance, Gain More Awareness

Take a deeper dive with our #BreaktheStigma Webinar, click image below.

Hosted by Meg Isbitski, Somerset County's Assistant Mental Health Administrator, she is joined by Mark Williams who facilitated a panel of experts: Sue Ferranti, Ken Musgrove, Oscar Ruge and Jennifer Sorensen as they shared their diverse lived experiences and advice in order to break the mental health stigma in Somerset County. Recorded from our live Human Services Academy Webinar on May 22, 2020



What is the Stigma Free Campaign?


The Stigma Free Campaign is an initiative of the Somerset County Department of Human Services to raise awareness about the tangible impact that mental health stigma has in the community.  Stigma, the practice of associating negative stereotypes with certain conditions like substance use, or race or social class, creates barriers and challenges that could be eliminated.  

We are Stigma Free Somerset County. Some of our members live with mental health and/or substance use disorder and some do not, but we all believe that stigma is harmful. Through personal stories and testimonies, we show that a person with a condition is just as valid as someone without. Embracing a stigma free culture encourages dignity and respect for residents of Somerset County, reduces fear of judgment as a barrier, and celebrates the differences that make our community diverse and multi-faceted. 

Why is it needed?

Language Decision GuideAccording to NAMI, 1 in 5 people in any given year are living with a diagnosable mental health condition nationally.  That represents 20% of the population and equates to 67k Somerset County residents.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23 million Americans have a substance use disorder, but only about 25% receive treatment of any kind.  “52.5% of those with co-occurring conditions received neither mental health care not substance use treatment”.  While there are barriers to mental health treatment in itself, for those with a co-occurring substance use disorder, they support is even harder to find.

Despite how common a condition is, there is still a high rate of shame associated with the label of mental health disorder, treatment and medication, substance use, overdose, and suicide.  There is still much public belief that these problems are self-made, and do not deserve empathy or help.  This works as a self-fulfilling prophecy and may cause denial, avoidance of treatment, and silent suffering.  

What can you do to help?

The group looks for opportunities to engage the general public to spread awareness to those who do not know the real experiences of those living daily with a mental health condition or co-occurring mental health and addictions.

  • Educate yourself about stigma and how it affects others 
  • Take the Pledge
  • Encourage others to educate themselves
  • Attend Stigma Free Meetings
  • Attend a Stigma Free training
  • Invite a someone from Stigma Free Somerset County to make a presentation at  a meeting that you attend

Contact persons for more information: