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Record - 4/22/2018

After returning from the flag raising ceremony at Bergen Regional Medical Center, which has made its facility the first to be recognized as a Stigma Free Zone, regarding mental illness, I read an article explaining Prince Harry's numerous "near mental breakdowns" after his mother Princess Diana's car crash and death. He describes "mental turmoil he suffered in public at the age of twelve" and "shutting down his emotions for nearly 20 years, while seeking professional counseling to cope with stress and pressures."

When someone experiences profound loss, grief, turmoil or other intense, acute emotions and do not have external resources or inner skill set to deal, process and respond appropriately, the result can be devastating. Even for a prince, who one might assume has all the financial resources to locate and utilize the best psychiatric care possible.

Stigma surrounding mental illness, seeking out care for mental and emotional crisis and/or drug and alcohol addiction needs to be abandoned. One would never be afraid to seek out the necessary help if diagnosed with diabetes, cancer or any other type of illness. However, when the issue of our "mental state" comes into question, people are quick to judge, label and move far away from the person, just when they need help the most.

Paramus is the first town in Bergen County to be "stigma free, but we need to keep the momentum growing, and alert people to the danger of silence.

Children committing suicide, overdosing, shooting up schools - these are the end results of what happens when people are afraid and ashamed of having a mental issue or disease, and the current state of our healthcare system, especially in Bergen County, with funding cuts on the horizon, and fee for service implementations will not make things any better.

We must remember that mental health issues can strike anywhere - even in the lives of royal princes.

Lisa Lanzalotto

Paramus, April 19


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