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New AWARE Campaign Helps People Recognize Symptoms of Mental Illness

Northern New Jersey integrated mental health care organization Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”) released a public service piece to help people recognize when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.

CarePlus created the AWARE campaign to help people recognize when they – or someone they know – are experiencing a mental health issue and also to advise on how to get help in the Bergen County area.

The advisement uses the acronym AWARE as an easy way to recognize symptoms and move towards getting help. The acronym outlines the following steps:

A – Always listen.

W – Watch for signs & symptoms.

A – Ask helpful questions.

R – Resist judgement.

E – Engage help.

“The campaign was designed to bring awareness to the signs and symptoms that often go unnoticed, and therefore untreated,” stated CarePlus Director of Marketing Caryl Felicetta. “While we developed the concept for Mental health Awareness month in May, the message is meant to stick around year round, reminding people to be aware of the symptoms and where to get help in this area.”

In an effort related to creating awareness and eliminating stigma, CarePlus benefactor and Paramus resident Mary Ann Uzzi, is spearheading a coalition for the development of a “Stigma-Free Zone” in Paramus. The goal of this is to create awareness – and through community involvement – remove the stigma attached to mental health issues. The initiative will launch in July and aims to create programs and activities with the combined efforts of schools, citizens, and local businesses including CarePlus.

The AWARE campaign posters and flyers have greater detail and are suitable as handouts or to hang on walls for easy reference in an office, school, or dorm room. They are available for download from the CarePlus website: http://www.careplusnj.org/aware. The pieces are full color, PDF files with local contact information for the Bergen County helpline 201-262-HELP, as well as CarePlus.

Local community centers have started using the posters and flyers to make the information available to their constituents. The organization has also made a version available that will allow people to insert their own local mental health care center’s contact information.

“The idea is to share the message with as many people as possible. It’s a simple message: Be AWARE, get help, get on with your life.” Felicetta remarked.

About Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”)
Care Plus NJ, Inc. (www.CarePlusNJ.org ) is a northern New Jersey provider of recovery-focused mental health, substance abuse and family services that addresses the unique needs of individuals with a holistic approach to recovery and overall wellness. Operating out of 23 sites – including three outpatient centers located in Paramus, Fair Lawn, and Montclair, ten residential facilities, offices at three local hospitals, and seven community offices – their services are convenient to clients located throughout Northern New Jersey. They also provide educational programs on mental health-related topics to area schools and community groups, including certified Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses.

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