Stigma Free Zone, A Community Initiative for Breaking Down Barriers of Mental Health – Ep. 101

Whether you are an advocate, mental health professional, a family member or friend of someone who struggles with a mental health challenge, or you yourself live with your own struggles, we can all agree that raising awareness and doing our part to help erase the stigma of mental health is needed now more than ever.

We can all do our own part, using our talents, gifts, and hard work to help make a difference in our local communities. After all, this is where we live, work, and socialize; it’s where we spend so much of our time each day. So why not do what we can to make our little corner of the world a place where people can feel empowered to ask for help when they need it, and to not feel ashamed or alone.

This is exactly what Cynthia Chazen is doing, with “The Stigma Free Zone”, in her local community of Bergen County, New Jersey.

The Stigma Free Zone, started by founder, Mary Ann Uzzi, in Paramus New Jersey, has a mission of inspiring public interest and open dialogues about stigma, raising awareness of the local mental health resources available, and breaking down barriers of mental health in local communities.

Cynthia and I first met at the HealtheVoices Conference in 2018; she is an enthusiastic advocate who believes everyone can educate about mental health. She is the editor of the Stigma Free Zone News of New Jersey, and has a huge following on Twitter where she shares both local and global news about mental illness.  You can subscribe to her newsletter by checking out her Facebook Page, SFZNewsofNJ.

During our chat on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, we talk more about The Stigma Free Zone initiative, including:

  • How the Stigma Free Zone movement started in New Jersey, and is spreading across the country.
  • How you can get involved and create your own chapter in your local community. Get the toolkit here.
  • You don’t need to be a mental health professional or have a degree, to make a difference.
  • How mental health education is the area for grassroots organizing.
  • Giving people permission to talk about their own mental health struggles.
  • Some of Cynthia’s story of the challenges she faced in her life that inspired her to take action for others.

Be sure and follow Cynthia Chazen on Twitter and check out the Facebook Pages for the Stigma Free Zone for more information on how you can get involved where you live.

If you’d like to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast, you can contact me anytime. Don’t forget to share this episode with someone who might need it; together we can all continue to make a difference.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

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All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.


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