One in four adults has a diagnosable mental illness. One in seven has a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, but stigma remains a barrier for those who need support. Brookdale stands to break those barriers down, becoming the first college in Monmouth County to be designated a Stigma-Free Zone.
The coronavirus pandemic has created additional stressors on daily life for many, and as a result, acknowledgment for a need for accessible mental health support has grown significantly. However, while awareness is growing, the stigma of being open about mental health is still very much prevalent.
The resolution, passed by the Board of Trustees last month, will be instrumental in providing those with mental health challenges a safe environment to access support and alleviate the challenge of facing it without fear of judgment.
President David Stout read the resolution before the vote to emphasize the declaration’s importance.
Graduate Trustee Hanna Walker echoed Stout’s sentiments. “This resolution recognizes that mental health problems are very common and serious matters,” Walker said. “It points out that one in four Americans have experienced mental health illness, including substance abuse. The resolution also mentions how the stigma behind mental health and substance abuse is the very reason why people fail to seek help. Declaring Brookdale a stigma-free community allows people to seek mental health treatment without fear of judgment, which ultimately will help people get the assistance that they need.
“It is as important as ever to prioritize mental health, and this resolution really allows that statement to shine to help our Brookdale community,” Walker said.
The Brookdale community can expect this initiative to be implemented on campus through a number of events sponsored by The Psychology and Human Services Club. Some possibilities are:
●A virtual campus-wide book club event where the Brookdale community would share and discuss literature with a mental health-related theme.
●A Stigma Free Poetry Slam where participants could share their mental health related spoken word pieces and poems.
●A “Paint the Campus Green” Party: This would be a day of chalking Brookdales walkways with black and green stripes, the intiative’s official colors. Signs would be posted around campus, and T-shirts and magnets would be distributed.
Currently, Brookdale has many resources for students and staff, such as licensed professional counselors assigned to each institute with the ability to make referrals for long term, off-campus support, if necessary. A social worker from the Monmouth County Division of Social Services is also available to provide students with assistance for food, shelter, and mental health counseling.
For more information on the Stigma-Free Initiative, please contact Sara Burrill [email protected] To join the Monmouth County Stigma-Free Committee, please email Pamela Major at [email protected]