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Howell joins Monmouth County’s Stigma-Free Communities program

HOWELL – Municipal officials in Howell have joined Monmouth County’s Stigma-Free Communities initiative, which seeks to reduce the negative beliefs associated with mental
illness and substance use disorders.

Stigma-free communities, including Howell, are dedicated to raising awareness of the diseases of mental illness and substance use disorders to create a culture where residents feel supported by their community and neighbors, which makes people more likely to seek treatment for their diseases without fear of judgment, according to a press release from the township.

The Monmouth County Stigma-Free Initiative’s online toolkit provides information about what it means to be stigma-free at individual and community levels; it also addresses stigma-free talking points, provides information about mental health first aid training, and includes a list of stigma-free language to avoid creating negative perceptions of mental illness and substance use disorders, such as person-first language, according to the press release.

“Howell is proud to join the ranks of other dedicated municipalities who have committed to being stigma-free,” said Howell Municipal Alliance Coordinator Christa Riddle, who has participated in the county’s stigma-free zone planning committee since its inception in 2018.

“The stigma-free initiative helps the Howell Alliance fulfill our mission to collaborate with community stakeholders to prevent substance abuse and other at-risk behaviors, mental health crises, and substance use/mental health disorder stigmas through awareness, resources, and education,” Riddle said.

On Nov. 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Howell Alliance is hosting a youth mental health first aid certification training session at the municipal building.

Such training sessions help reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health and substance use disorders so affected people feel comfortable asking for assistance and resources rather than suffering in silence for fear of judgment, according to the press release.

For more information about the Howell Alliance, visit

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