Ocean County nonprofit takes action to reduce stigma and promote mental health awareness.
TOMS RIVER, N.J. – May 11, 2023 – PRLog — In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM), Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) is participating in a variety of community events to promote mental health awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness in Ocean County. As proclaimed by Governor Phil Murphy, May is Mental Health Awareness month. “Mental health is an essential part of overall health and well-being, and affects one’s physical health, relationship and ability to thrive,” stated Murphy. Roughly 1 in 7 children and 1 in 5 adults have struggled with their mental health, ranging from minor to debilitating afflictions.
On May 3rd, OPC participated with the Ocean County Mental Health Awareness Committee, along with several other local agencies at the Celebrating Wellness event, which took place at the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library. The event showcased services offered to local youth and families and celebrated Community Advocates, stigma free communities, and youth winners of the poetry and calendar art contest.
Community Advocates are local influential members of the community and mental health professionals who have made a profound impact on our community. “We are proud to acknowledge our long-time board member and supporter, Jim Cooney who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s event. This is a great honor and recognition of his dedicated service in promoting mental health awareness throughout his career,” stated Mary Jo Buchanan, LCSW, MPA, Executive Director of OPC. Previous Community Advocates include OPC’s Assistant Director of Operations, Liz Menges, who was honored last year for her work with with the LGBTQ+ youth group, ‘Your Authentic Self’ as well as her advocacy in the community for the LGTBQ+ youth population.
“The event also included a ‘Creative Expressions Contest’, a creative art contest highlighting youth across the county,” explained Michelle Palmer, MS, NCC, LPC, ACS, CCS, Care Manager Supervisor at OPC. “The impact of the kids’ strengths being highlighted on a bigger scale, in front of their peers and community members has a profound and positive impact of the direction of their future,” continued Palmer.
By participating in MHAM events, OPC hopes to spread awareness about the importance of mental health and encourage others to join in the celebration. In addition to the Celebrating Wellness event, OPC will be participating in the Brick Township Family Fair on Wednesday, May 17th and the Ocean Cares Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday, May 20th at Trader’s Cove Marina.
“New Jersey is making great strides in reducing stigma and discrimination associated with a mental health diagnosis by instilling hope, by providing access to healthcare and to a wide array of community-based human and social services, to assist individuals with mental illness to live a healthy, dignified life,” said Governor Murphy in his proclamation.
OPC invites the community to join them in celebrating MHAM and promoting mental health awareness. Together, OPC and our community can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and support individuals in living healthy, dignified lives.
About Ocean Partnership for Children Inc.
Founded in 2005, Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) is Ocean County’s Care Management Organization (CMO). Its mission is to enhance the well-being of youth and their families through natural and community supports. OPC provides care coordination services for Ocean County youth up the age of 21 years who have mental health, substance use, intellectual and developmental challenges. OPC strives to keep children and adolescents at home, in school, and in the community by connecting them to resources that meet their unique needs and help them achieve their goals.
OPC is a non-profit organization available at no cost to all youth and families in Ocean County who meet the eligibility criteria of the New Jersey Children’s System of care. To learn more, visit https://www.oceanpartnership.org or https://www.oceanresourcenet.org.