Hoboken is Nation's First 'Stigma Free Zone'
Official signs have been posted around town.
Hoboken officially became the first Stigma Free Zone in the country on Tuesday, during a ceremony hosted by the Hudson County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
"Basically, we're making a statement," said Brenda Luchetti, coordinator of the event. "Mental illness is a disease and the stigma is part of the problem."
Among the speakers on Tuesday afternoon in front of City Hall were also First Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano and Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Three Hoboken High School students received proclamations for essays they wrote about mental illness and the challenges of dealing with somebody who has a mental illness.
"Hoboken High: You rock!" said Celina Gray, Executive Director, NJ Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma. She added that New Jersey is a leader in mental health awareness.
"The conversation about mental health is changing," Gray said.
Also presented were several art projects, including a tree made out of empty pill bottles, which were displayed in front of City Hall.
"I'm proud of Hoboken," said Michael Swerdlow, director of the Hoboken University Hospital Behavioral Health Center. He added that only a third of the people with mental illness actually get treatment, due to stigmas attached to the issue.
The hope is that, by naming Hoboken stigma free, more people will seek help and receive treatment.
Signs proclaiming Hoboken a stigma free zone will be put up around town, as well as by the town's entrance.
"Hoboken has changed today," Luchetti said, proudly. "It is now a stigma free zone."