Be aware of addiction and mental illness stigmas

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To the Editor:

Have you ever noticed those roadside signs stating the town you’re entering is a stigma-free town?

I bet you didn’t know the stigma being referring to.

I know I didn’t until my town, West Milford, became a stigma-free town.

A stigma-free town is one that aims to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and substance use disorders.

Mental illness comes in many forms such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia and major depression.

The stigma of these illnesses is a major barrier to mental health care, per the Surgeon General.

The impediment to seeking health care is mostly due to social distancing.

What can you do to combat mental illness stereotypes?

Be aware of your attitude toward those suffering from mental illness.

Be careful of the language you use in reference to mental health sufferers.

Reach out to those who are isolating themselves.

Get help for those who show symptoms.

If you are stigmatizing yourself, seek help from the medical community.

Being compassionate toward each other is a small thing each of us can do that will have a tremendous impact.

Denise vpn Wilke,

West Milford

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