Former NJ governor declares FDU 'stigma free'

codey stugma free“We will display this sign with pride, as a visible reminder that we all have a duty to speak up. The only sign of weakness is not speaking up. We are a community and we have a duty to look out for each other,” said FDU President Christopher Capuano. Above, (R to L): Peter Woolley, Florham Campus provost; former New Jersey Governor Richard Codey; Capuano; and Stephanie Koempel, director of counseling and psychological services at the Florham Campus. (Photos by W. Scott Giglio)

By Kenna Caprio and Dan Landau

April 11, 2017  In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, State Senator and former New Jersey Governor Richard Codey, BA'81 (Flor), presented the University with a “stigma-free” designation at the Florham Campus. The campaign promotes mental health awareness, aiming to launch stigma-free discussions and provide support.

“Suicide is one of the biggest killers of teens and young adults,” said Codey. “I was born and raised in a funeral home and I’m still in the business today. I had a funeral recently for a man who committed suicide. These deaths are easily avoidable, but the biggest problem is stigma. People are afraid and ashamed to talk about it and get help.”

codey stigma free 2Above: Richard Codey and Florham students unwind with therapy dogs.

FDU President Christopher Capuano, a biopsychologist by training, also spoke at the event, which featured a visit from pet therapy dogs from Creature Comfort in Morris Plains, N.J.

“As a psychologist, I consider our campus stigma-free. We have great counseling centers on both New Jersey campuses as well as strong master’s and doctoral programs in mental health,” said Capuano.

Creature Comfort’s trained therapy animals make frequent trips to campus to help ease student stress.

“One of our favorite ways of de-stigmatizing mental health is with pet therapy — a fun and scientifically proven way to reduce stress,” said Stephanie Koempel, director of counseling and psychological services for the Florham Campus.