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Unity Place of Monmouth has always held inclusiveness as a defining principle – its very name says as much. Unity’s central tenet of being welcoming to all applies to the clients it treats for mental health or substance use and to the staff who provide that care. With this in mind, Unity is celebrating June as LGBTQ Pride Month.

LGBTQ clients have in many cases experienced severe stigma. While society has made strides in this area, there remains no shortage of bias and misunderstanding towards this population This becomes a crucial issue in their treatment. Because of stigma, LGBT people may hesitate to come out, denying their true selves and planting the seeds of an internal struggle that may last for years, even decades.

Unity staff are planning numerous events and activities that are rainbow-themed, honoring the design of the Pride Flag. Groups will center on the rainbow flag and the message it conveys. The rainbow design of the flag is the creation of artist Gilbert Baker. Baker was urged by Harvey Milk, one of the country’s first opening gay elected officials, to create a symbol of pride for the gay community, according to an article on the topic by Nora Gonzalez.

The various colors of the flag reflect both the diversity and the unity of the LGBTQ community. Unity is waving this symbolic flag throughout June. Therapy groups will explore LGBTQ issues and diversity in general. Unity Place honors the essence of Pride Month.


Unity Place of Monmouth put the finishing touches on Mental Health Awareness Month last week with a fun trivia test that pitted the clients and counseling staff against each other in a good-natured competition. This was the last and among the best activities that filled the Unity calendar throughout May.

Clients came up with a list of questions covering a range of topics ranging from mental health to movie trivia to history. To give an idea of the wide-ranging topics, questions covered the parts of brain, the year was Rocky made, and President who got stuck in a bathtub.  When the dust settled, the clients had edged out the counseling staff, 8-9. 

Clients also voted on counselors in 14 categories, including the coolest wardrobe, who is most likely to be president. The winners were:

Nikki – best wardrobe

Lorraine- lets clients into the Unity store when it’s not their day

Albert- next president

Sarah –  knows their stuff

Paul –  next director

Donna – always late to group

Carolyn – always on time

Bertina – most likely to win an Oscar

Two others on the Unity staff merit superlatives as the most creative event coordinators: Jamie and Bridget. They endured May was filled with Mental Health Awareness along with amusement.

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Unity Place of Monmouth is making the the most of Mental Awareness Month.  Each May, Unity Place and organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness turn their attention to educating the public about mental illness and combatting stigma. This effort is all the more important as more people in recent years have been impacted by mental health issues, including many young people as well as veterans returning from service.

Unity Place clients have had a host of activities that included a visit from a couple of canines and their trainers and a spelling bee with words centering on mental health and treatment. And all month they have been at work on posters combating stigma towards mental illness.

The messages of the posters convey messages about how many people suffer from mental health issues. One emphasized that “not all pain is physical, and not all wounds are visible.”  The hidden nature of mental illness is crucial to understanding and treating it. An individual may appear well on the surface but be deeply troubled and may not seek treatment until the illness is at an advanced stage, potentially imperiling their life.

One provides a powerful exhortation: “Grow through what you go through.”  In the same vein, still another one stressed, “You are important, You matter, Your presence on this earth makes a difference.” And this one: “Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.”

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month, the staff have been deeply involved with the clients work and have encouraged creativity and enjoyment while at the same time confronting serious issues affecting individuals with Mental Health issues. Congratulations to clients and staff alike!


Unity Place of Monmouth had a visit from a pair of special canines and their human comrades.  The owners and trainers from Missing Canine brought a pair of friendly and smart pups in a program that was part of Unity’s celebration of May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

The clients leaned about what it takes to train a dog to be an emotional support dog. This presentation included commands the dogs learn and how they come to ease a person’s anxiety or depression. This, of course, brought smiles to faces of the clients who experience some of those feelings.

Another part of the visit illustrated what is involved to have a dog track a lost animal. This included a demonstration by the visiting dogs on how they rely on their acute sense of smell to find a lost dog.

One of the guests is named Billie Holiday, but she did not sing her rendition of “God Bless the Child.”

These dogs and those who brought them are remarkable. As are the staff at Unity who helped bring this demonstration to the clients.


May brings not only glorious spring weather but also Mental Health Awareness Month. Unity Place of Monmouth embraces this as an opportunity to provide clients with activities that are enjoyable and also focused on some central issues related to mental health.

Exploring Mental Health Awareness Month’s goal of improving understanding and acceptance of mental health issues, Unity clients will be asked to develop a campaign taking aim at stigma.  The campaign provide facts and data about the prevalence of mental illness and that people of all backgrounds have experienced mental health issues.  Clients will work on the posters during case management sessions, so it will not interfere with their group work.  Program director Lorraine Laura will picking the group that comes up with the best message and imagery.

Early in  May, the facility will get a visit from a collection of four-legged supporters.  Caregiver Companions will be coming to Unity Place the week of May 6, with therapy dogs spending time with those being treated at the facility. This is in addition to the regular visits by therapy dogs that clients see every month.

Mental Health Awareness Month activities will include a yoga, which will be provided by former Unity Place intern Tiffany. She will do two 30 minute sessions with clients. Yoga emphasizes the vital connection between physical and mental health.

Continuing with the theme of health, the third week of May will have clients making their own trail mix snack. The idea here is to facilitate conversations about health living and how one’s diet affects the mood.

There will also be a spelling bee and, closing out the month, a trivia contest in which clients will try to stump Unity Place counselors with questions centering on mental health. This last week of May will focus on clients talking about coping skills and the changes they have made in their mental health.

Unity outreach staff Jamie Paris and Bridget Cowan are to be applauded for coming with a month’s worth of enjoyable and thought-provoking activities that benefit Unity’s clients.


At Unity, our goal is to provide a therapeutic environment where each client can learn how to successfully handle life’s challenges.

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1075 Stephenson Ave.
Suite C
Oceanport, NJ 07757


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