HCN News & Notes

North Adams Mayor Joins Statewide Anti-stigma Campaign

NORTH ADAMS — North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright has long advocated for people with mental-health and substance-use issues. Now, he is taking his advocacy a step further, signing on to CEOs Against Stigma, the statewide workplace campaign created by the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass). Alcombright is the first municipal leader in the Commonwealth to join the campaign.

“The impact of mental illness on those who suffer and their families, in my opinion, makes this the loneliest illness,” he said. “The fear of stigma by those affected can many times be eliminated by sharing with those who care and by seeking help. I want to help our employees and their families overcome the silence and isolation by providing a supportive and caring environment for everyone who works for the city.”

At least one out of every five adults in Massachusetts will experience a mental illness this year. Even in the healthiest workplaces, mental illness remains mostly a secret on account of stigma. CEOs Against Stigma — which is funded by a grant from the state Attorney General’s office — partners with leaders across Massachusetts to implement top-down changes to create healthier, more productive workplaces where employees feel safe disclosing health conditions about themselves or a family member.

“I can’t tell you how pleased I was to be asked by NAMI to join the CEOs Against Stigma campaign,” Alcombright said.

He joins the team of more than 60 CEOs and other leaders who have taken up the fight against workplace stigma. By signing the pledge, he has made a commitment to his city’s more than 700 employees to create a stigma-free environment and invite dialogue about mental-health conditions without fear of disclosure. The city of North Adams will also make employees aware of the mental-health benefits available to them and bring in NAMI’s anti-stigma presentation, called In Our Own Voice, which features two people sharing their personal stories of recovery.

“Mayor Alcombright is leading the way for other cities and towns to create stigma-free places to work by becoming the first municipal leader in Massachusetts to sign the CEOs Against Stigma pledge,” said NAMI Berkshire County Executive Director Brenda Carpenter. “We are honored to have him on our team to help transform the way people think and act toward mental-health conditions.”

CEOs Against Stigma is working to secure the commitment of 250 chief executives and reach a half-million employees. Any Massachusetts company with at least 50 employees can join. For more information about CEOs Against Stigma, visit ceos.namimass.org. To contact NAMI Berkshire County, call (413) 443-1666 or e-mail namibc@namibc.org.