If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, you are not alone. According to 2020 statistics, from healthypeople.gov, “an estimated 18.1 percent (43.6 million) of U.S. adults ages 18 years or older suffer from mental illness.” In order to raise mental health awareness, the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) will partner with the Somerset County Department of Human Services (SCDHS) on August 11 from 6-7:30 p.m. for a virtual program.
“Conversations such as these are so important for reducing stigma,” said Meg Isbitski, LSW, Somerset County’s assistant mental health administrator. “Often people get so caught up in the stereotypes and beliefs that they hold about mental health and substance use conditions. By listening to someone share their own story, it takes power away from those false stereotypes that can cause separation and isolation. Challenging our own preconceived notions allows us to broaden our own perspectives, create empathy and acceptance, and reduce the shame and fear that can come from the unknown.”
During the virtual program, Library customers will have the opportunity to learn about mental health and substance use conditions and how to cope with them; as well as how to end the stigma that surrounds these serious issues. A panel of guests will explore stigma through personal stories and testimonies.
“People in our communities regularly struggle with psychological conditions, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders; none of which should be a source of shame,” said Darryl Voorhes, manager of adult services, programming and collaborations, public services. “The isolation and other traumatic effects brought on by the pandemic often accentuate these problems, and call for more meaningful interactions, connections, and support for everyone. Somerset County Stigma-Free is an initiative that does just that, and this program partnership with the Somerset County Department of Human Services serves our common goals and the needs of our residents.”
Somerset County Stigma-Free is an initiative of the Somerset County Department of Human Services to raise awareness about mental health and the very tangible impact that stigma and stereotypes have on individuals and the community. For more information visit: www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/human-services/stigma-free-2645.
For more information or to register for the August 11 program: sclsnj.libnet.info/event/4442420.