Social Issues tackled by Rider’s staff and students

By Ryan Connelly

On April 19,  Rider hosted “Stomp Out the Stigma,” an event used to raise awareness for mental illness, spearheaded by the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness.

Its main mission is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, substance use disorders and to raise more awareness about how serious mental illness and addiction is.

According to stampoutthestigma.com, the goal is to change perceptions and reduce the stigma of mental illness while encouraging people to talk about it. Mental health and substance use disorder diagnoses are more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, migraines, osteoporosis and asthma. However, misconceptions and misinformation have left many people with mental illness and substance use disorders afraid to talk about their experiences or to seek help.

Lisa Spatafore, a psychologist for Rider’s counseling services and supervisor of the event said, “Stomp Out the Stigma is a run,walk and information fair held annually which aims to raise awareness about mental health issues and the stigma often associated with them. We feel it is important to educate the student population about mental health concerns while raising awareness as well as providing information and resources available to students both on-campus and in the local community.”

Rider’s staff aren’t the only ones fighting for this cause; a big part of the fight is getting the students on board to help raise awareness.

Emotional health and wellness is just as important as physical health.  In fact, they are intertwined,” Spatafore said. “Struggling with mental health related concerns is nothing to feel ashamed of and is normal to a degree. We all experience negative emotions and go through trying periods in life and we all need to feel supported and guided through the process of finding our way back to a better place within ourselves.”

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