Mental Illness Awareness Week Is Oct 1st-7th

Mental Illness Awareness Week is observed each year during the first week of October, and will begin this year on Sunday, October 1, 2023,
running through Saturday, October 7, 2023. On September 27, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy signed a proclamation officially declaring Oct. 1st - 7th as Mental Illness Awareness Week in New Jersey, highlighting the prevalence and effects of mental illness, and the efforts New Jersey has taken, and will continue to take, to raise awareness about the importance of mental health to prevent suicide, and to advance treatment opportunities for individuals with mental illness.

Click here to access Governor Murphy's Mental Illness Awareness Week Proclamation.

New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma Launches New Website and Publication

To coincide with Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 1-7, 2023), the New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma launched its new website featuring a dynamic design and a biannual newsletter, Stopping Stigma, featuring the Council's members and initiatives.

"Despite the progress that has been made over the past decade, we still have a long way to go to eliminate stigma and discrimination, which are the most common reasons individuals do not seek treatment or cannot receive it when they do pursue such support. The Council is working as hard as possible to change this," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, Chair of the Council, as well as President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies and Executive Director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute.

"The Council has done a lot to create awareness of mental health and debunk misperceptions of what stigma means and its impact on individuals and society. It has provided individuals with the facts of mental illness and resources," said Valerie Mielke, MSW, Assistant Commissioner, New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which houses the Council. "Now is a really great opportunity because people are talking about mental health, particularly coming out of COVID. Many more people now recognize the impact that social isolation and loss have had on individuals, as well as how mental and physical health are intertwined. People are more freely talking about it because the Council and other entities are having conversations."

Sharing Personal Stories Is an Impactful Strategy the Council Embraces

"Sharing personal experiences of overcoming the challenges that commonly occur along with mental illness and the successes achieved as a result is one of the most compelling ways to eliminate stigma. The Council invites such sharing in support of its mission and, most importantly, to encourage people who are struggling and could benefit from inspiration," Dr. Wentz said.

The website includes a page featuring individuals' triumphs and a portal for submitting stories as either written narratives or videos to be considered for inclusion on the website.

Website and Newsletter Highlight Resources and Initiatives from the Council and Partners

The Council's website at provides links to a wealth of informative resources that are categorized for easy navigation. Resources are organized by a range of topics, including individual, family and friends, culture and religion, law enforcement, military and veterans' affairs, self-care and several others. The website also shares information and related links about educational tools and events from a variety of mental health stakeholders throughout New Jersey and the nation.

The newsletter, Stopping Stigma, is planned for publication to align with Mental Health Awareness Month (May) and Mental Illness Awareness Week (October) each year. The inaugural issue introduces the Council members and shares their insights into the Council's success to date and their ideas to achieve further impact the group is continually working to achieve. As the Council highlights the State Administration's focus on strengthening New Jersey residents' mental health, the publication also features Governor Phil Murphy's Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor's Playbook that he unveiled on July 13, 2023 at a conference of the National Governors Association, which he chairs.

Of course, both the website and the newsletter feature the Council's recent and upcoming events and ongoing initiatives and members' contributions. For example, the creation of the Stigma-Free Learning Collaborative is highlighted in the newsletter and has its own web page that will be updated on a regular basis. Both resources also feature Unlocked: 25 Keys to Recovering from Depression, Anxiety or Bipolar Disorder, a book written by Council member Emily Grossman, MA, CPRP, NYCPS-P, Founder of Emily Grossman Peer Life Coaching and Training Services, which will be published on October 17, 2023.

Click here to visit the website and here to access the newsletter.

"I am extremely grateful to all of the Council members. Though we are a small group and all of us have very busy schedules and many other responsibilities, everyone's passion, determination and hard work to eradicate stigma and open doors to recovery and wellness for others are far-reaching in their impact," Dr. Wentz said. "We definitely are making progress in eliminating stigma!"

In addition to Dr. Wentz, members of the Council are:

  • Heidi Castrillon, Founder and CEO of BIZ REPUBLIC
  • Emily Grossman, MA, CPRP, NYCPS-P, Founder of Emily Grossman Peer Life Coaching and Training Services
  • David B. Jacobs, CPA, President and Owner, Old Tyme Syrups & Sundae Toppings
  • Rev. Jose C. Lopez, State Chaplain for the New Jersey Department of Corrections
  • Amy Spagnolo, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions, Rutgers, the State University
  • Susan Tellone, RN, MSN, CSN, Clinical Director, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
  • Dr. Janon Wilson, LPC, ACS, HS-BCP, Owner and Clinical Director of Compass Counseling & Psychotherapy

For additional information, write to or call 609-438-4318.

Resources from SAMHSA

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has shared a number of resources in observance of Mental Illness Awareness Week, including:

Click here for more information and resources from SAMHSA.

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