Reinforces commitment to youth community mental health services through sponsorship
Paramus, N.J. (May 5, 2022) – In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus NJ”), a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, is bringing the Paramus Stigma-Free message to the Paramus Little League as a Grand Sponsor for the 2022 season.
As the Grand Sponsor, CarePlus NJ will have a presence at the Paramus Little League opening ceremonies on May 13 at 6 p.m. at Cliff Gennarelli-Paramus Sports-Plex located on Garden State Plaza Parkway in Paramus, N.J. The ceremony will feature music and food trucks as well as remarks from Care Plus Foundation Board Chair John Uzzi who will underscore the importance of eliminating stigma often attached to those with mental illness.
Uzzi will be reinforcing a movement that first came to Paramus in 2013 when his wife Mary Ann, a CarePlus NJ board member at the time, became aware of Hoboken, N.J.’s efforts to designate their city as a “Stigma-Free Zone,” a commitment to creating a safe, stigma-free environment for those with mental illness while educating the public about mental illness to help eradicate the stigma associated with it.
The designation inspired Mary Ann to bring the public awareness initiative to her hometown of Paramus, which became the first Stigma-Free Zone in Bergen County. Over the years, the movement gained traction throughout Bergen County and today all 70 of its municipalities have also become designated Stigma-Free Zones. Residents of Paramus for over 40 years, the Uzzis also have strong ties with Paramus Little League as both their sons and two of their grandsons have played in the league.
Today, reemphasizing the stigma-free movement is more important than ever, especially among children and adolescents, who are experiencing what experts have deemed a youth mental health crisis. In December 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory highlighting the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic’s unprecedented mental health impacts on youth and families.
“The stigma associated with mental illness is a significant obstacle that can prevent those coping with mental health challenges from seeking the help they need,” said John Uzzi, Care Plus Foundation Board Chair. “While the pandemic has shone a light on the widespread issue of mental illness, especially among today’s youth which has helped in part to diminish the stigma, there is still work to be done. We are grateful for the opportunity to help educate the public on mental illness and create a positive, stigma-free environment for those experiencing mental health challenges by reinforcing the stigma-free message among not only the Paramus Little League but also within the larger community.”
The partnership with Paramus Little League builds upon the longstanding relationship CarePlus NJ has with the municipality, where it has been headquartered for over 40 years. Additionally, CarePlus NJ has been providing mental health services to the Paramus Public Schools through its School-Based Services program. Further expanding its commitment to the community, CarePlus NJ is also a proud Blue Sponsor of the Paramus Centennial, a year-long celebration of the borough’s 100-year anniversary, the culmination of which will be marked with a centennial celebration event open to the public in October 2022 at Westfield Garden State Plaza.
About CarePlus NJ
For more than 40 years, Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus NJ”) has been a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children in northern New Jersey. Based in Paramus, New Jersey, CarePlus NJ is committed to providing the most comprehensive integrated treatment options through 80 programs designed to meet the full spectrum of health and wellness needs for adults and children in the communities it serves. Specializing in acute care, CarePlus NJ provides immediate, high-quality health services and support programs for individuals in crisis. Nationally ranked for excellence in customer satisfaction by the Mental Health Corporations of America, CarePlus NJ is mission driven ensuring that anyone who needs it has access to specialized care. To learn more about CarePlus NJ and its wide range of programs and services, visit https://www.careplusnj.org/.
Photo caption (from left to right): Care Plus Foundation Board Chair John Uzzi, Mary Ann Uzzi, leader of the Paramus Stigma-Free movement, and CarePlus NJ President and CEO Joe Masciandaro don t-shirts to to show their support of the Paramus Little League and the Paramus Stigma-Free public awareness initiative.