James Vander Hooven, Ed. D, signed onto the CEO’s Against Stigma Campaign on Monday as he began his second week as Mount Wachusett Community College’s president.
“I cannot control the family or community support mechanisms our valued employees may or may not have at home. What I can control is our ability here, in the workplace, to be supportive of each other through the difficult times. This is an expectation I have for our College community,” President Vander Hooven said of his signing on to the The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) CEOs Against Stigma campaign.
NAMI Mass launched the CEOs Against Stigma campaign in 2015 with a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. CEOs Against Stigma partners with the leaders of businesses, organizations and municipalities across the Commonwealth to educate and combat stigma. President Vander Hooven’s signing of the pledge Monday continued a commitment to fighting this stigma that previous President Dr. Daniel M. Asquino made last year.
“Mental health conditions affect one in five adults and are the leading cause of workplace disability. Even in the best workplaces, mental illness remains a secret on account of stigma,” says Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director of NAMI Massachusetts. “We are thrilled to have President Vander Hooven of Mount Wachusett Community College sign onto our CEOs Against Stigma campaign. His leadership role will help transform the way people think and act at MWCC.”
As part of this campaign, participating employers host In Our Own Voice, a NAMI signature program featuring two people living with mental illness who share their personal stories and how they are achieving recovery. The In Our Own Voice program has been recognized by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America.
Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support. To learn more about NAMI Mass, please visit namimass.org.