JFS Joins the Stigma Free Atlantic Collaborative Countywide Program
Posted on March 08, 2023
Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties (JFS) is proud to join the Stigma Free Atlantic Collaborative countywide program which aims to raise awareness and reduce negative beliefs associated with mental health and substance use disorders. The initiative hopes to create a culture where people feel supported by their community and seek treatment for disorders without fear of judgement.
“JFS is committed to providing outstanding services to those experiencing mental health disorders across the agency’s programming,” said Andrea Steinberg, JFS Chief Executive Officer. “JFS recognizes the impact of stigma when seeking services and has to remove that barrier to achieve wellness.”
At JFS, this is what we do every day. With 135 direct service staff who help clients be seen as more than someone with a mental illness, staff provide programs and services to help people affected confidently integrate into the community. In 2022, JFS provided 312 initial sessions to begin counseling, and performed a total of 8,076 tele-health and in-person counseling or therapy sessions as well as numerous case management meetings.
“Many people feel reduced to the label of their mental health diagnosis and the careless language others use to describe them. JFS Case Managers educate community members about stigmatizing language and advocate for those with a mental health diagnosis to have equitable access to housing, jobs, healthcare and other resources,” said Samantha McManus, JFS Associate Director of Intake and JFS Stop the Stigma Campaign Representative.
In addition to assisting clients, JFS provides a Stigma Free Workplace to create an environment in which staff may seek treatment without the fear of being stigmatized.
With JFS working cohesively with the county, businesses and other organizations to end the stigma, staff signed a pledge to show their support. The posters are on display at each JFS office – Atlantic City, Atlantic Homeless Alliance, Atrium, Cape May, and Margate – and agency attended vendor expos.
As the county shared in part, “The establishment of the Stigma Free program will raise awareness of local mental health resources so no one resident needs to feel hopeless or alone. The elimination of stigma will enable residents to ask for help when needed so recovery can begin, hope is inspired, and tragedies are avoided.”
For more information on the Stigma Free Atlantic Collaborative program, contact StigmaFreeAtlantic@mhanj.org. For information on JFS programs and services, visit jfsatlantic.org.
Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties staff signed the Stop the Stigma poster which is on display at each JFS office and agency attended vendor expo. JFS staff are committed to raising awareness and stopping the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders. (Photo courtesy of Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties)