Published on May 26, 2022

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center Raises Stigma-Free Flag in Recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month

The Medical Center was the first Hospital to be declared a Stigma-free zone and commemorates its designation yearly with a flag raising ceremony in May

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco; Keynote Speaker and Bergen New Bridge Social worker Tammy Smith; Bergen New Bridge President and CEO Deb Visconi and Care Plus Bergen Board Chairperson Julia Orlando hold proclomation in front of Stigma-Freeflag

Pictured: Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco; Keynote Speaker and Bergen New Bridge Social worker Tammy Smith; Bergen New Bridge President and CEO Deb Visconi and Care Plus Bergen Board Chairperson Julia Orlando

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, New Jersey’s largest hospital and a clinical affiliate of Rutgers, proudly raised its Stigma-free Flag in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month.

Bergen New Bridge President and CEO Deb Visconi opened the program requesting a moment of silence for the lives of the school children and teachers tragically lost in the senseless act of violence in Texas.

Visconi reminded the crowd that, “Each year at the Medical Center, we raise our Stigma-Free flag during Mental Health Awareness month as a reminder. As the first hospital to be designated a stigma-free zone in New Jersey, we are more dedicated to eradicating the stigma often associated with mental health.” She further shared, “We know as healthcare professionals that there is no health without mental health. We continue this conversation, raising this flag every year until that message is the reality for everyone.”

“Stigma free for me, this hospital and all of you is about so much more than wearing lime green,” said Care Plus Bergen Board Chairperson Julia Orlando. “It is continuing the mental health conversation every day with respect, inclusivity, and compassion.”

The highlight of the event was the keynote speech by Bergen New Bridge Social Worker Tammy Smith, who shared her personal mental health journey, reminding us that a mental health illness is no different than a physical illness and stigma only serves to discriminate and keep people from seeking life changing and lifesaving care. “Mental Health challenges do not discriminate and can affect all people regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, or religion, said Smith. “Be kind. Show empathy. We are all fighting battles no one else knows.”

County Executive Jim Tedesco also began his comments passionately speaking about the Texas tragedy and the need for elected officials to do the right thing, working together to stop this senseless violence taking the lives of so many innocent lives.

He concluded his comments saying, “As long as I am County Executive, Bergen County will remain dedicated to fighting stigma, and supporting mental health care and services such as those found at Bergen New Bridge.” He then issued a proclamation acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Month.

The ceremony ended with the event speakers and staff from the Medical Center’s Mental Health Division raising the Stigma-Free flag to half mast in memory of all those lost in the Texas tragedy.

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