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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Mental Health Players
Mountain Lakes, New Jersey

Start Date

Brief Description
The Mental Health Players program is a volunteer-supported program that is offered through the Community Education Program of the Mental Health Association of Morris County, New Jersey (MHAMC). The goal of the MHAMC is to promote mental health, prevent mental illness, and improve the care and treatment of people in recovery from mental illness through programs of education, advocacy, and service. The Community Education Program educates the community about mental illness and helps to prevent prejudice and discrimination associated with mental illness.

More than 25 years ago, a group called the Elmira Players began to use role-play for community education. Because their technique had proven to be successful, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey decided to promote the use of similar programs in their State. Since then, MHAMC started its own group of volunteers to educate the community in Morris County

The Mental Health Players are a group of volunteers who use interactive role-plays to address important issues such as aging, drug and alcohol abuse, parent/child conflicts, staff conflicts, stigma, and mental illness. The goal of the program is to increase people’s awareness of themselves and others during an emotional conflict. MHAMC has found that role-play techniques enable audiences to get more involved. Performances last approximately 1 hour and consist of three role-plays with audience interaction.

The Players average 20 performances a year, reaching approximately 800–1,000 audience members. Audience surveys distributed after each performance consistently show enthusiasm for the program and interest in participating in additional Mental Health Player performances. In 2007, 73 percent of audience members disclosed that they learned something new about mental health and/or mental illness or now know where to go for help as a result of this program.

For further information on the Mental Health Players, contact Christa Simons by phone at 973-334-3496, extension 107 or by e-mail:


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.