MAYNARD SCHOOLS CHIEF COMMITS TO ANTI-STIGMA FIGHT

MAYNARD SCHOOLS CHIEF COMMITS TO ANTI-STIGMA FIGHT

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass)

CONTACT: Matt Ellis, Ellis Strategies, Inc., matt@ellisstrategies.com, 617-278-6560

State House News Service March 17, 2016

Superintendent Joins CEOs Against Stigma

Maynard, MA – Robert J. Gerardi, Jr., Ph.D., Superintendent of the Maynard Public Schools, is the state’s first education head to sign on to CEOs Against Stigma, the statewide workplace campaign created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Massachusetts (NAMI Mass). Dr. Gerardi says he is committed to helping eliminate the stigma of mental health conditions in the workplace, starting with the 300 employees of the Maynard Public Schools.

“One of my professional mantras is health and family first,” says Dr. Gerardi. “Too often, people only consider physical health as necessary and I believe that we need to include mental health as being just as necessary.”

Mental health disorders affect one in five adults and are the leading cause of workplace disability. But, they are different from physical conditions. Mental health conditions are often not discussed in the workplace because of the stigma that surrounds them. Dr. Gerardi understands the impact his commitment – and this campaign – can make.

“CEOs Against Stigma is designed to create a stigma-free work environment by changing misconceptions about mental illness so people can speak freely about the conditions that affect them and their families,” says NAMI Mass Executive Director, Laurie Martinelli. “By partnering with the state’s top leaders, we’re able to bring more awareness of mental health issues to the workplace and create healthier environments for workers.”

Dr. Gerardi adds, “Stigma should never interfere with the health of our friends and colleagues. That is why I signed this pledge and will be highlighting our community’s supports for mental health in Maynard.”

By joining the campaign, Dr. Gerardi agrees to bring in NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentations into the workplace. Recognized by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America, IOOV features two people sharing their personal stories of recovery. These presentations are an important component of the campaign. He also promises to encourage more dialogue about mental health conditions, provide information to both managers and employees, and examine the school district’s health and welfare benefits to ensure they are welcoming and effective in addressing employees’ mental health needs.

CEOs Against Stigma is working to sign 250 executives to the campaign and reach half a million employees. Any Massachusetts company with at least 50 employees can join. For more information about CEOs Against Stigma, click here. http://ceos.namimass.org/

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