Media Awareness

Franklin Park Woman Honored for Activism in Addiction, Reducing Stigma in Mental Illness

A Franklin Park woman dedicated to stopping the stigma attached to addiction and mental illness was honored this month with the Laura Ditka Award for Advocacy and Service.

Sherry Jo Matt, founder of Stop the Judgement, received the award at the Cribs for Kids 2023 Women of Achievement event held March 2 at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.

Sherry Jo Matt and Thomas Bott at the Cribs For Kids event
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Originally Published: March 10, 2023

Matt and her husband, Tom Bott created Stop the Judgment Project after their daughter Siena died from a fentanyl overdose in 2020 at the age of 21. Siena suffered mental health issues and addiction as a young teenager.

“She wanted to live her dreams while trying to break free from the drug of mental illness and the shackles of addiction,” said Matt, when accepting her award.

Matt said mental illness and addiction often go hand-in-hand, and she wants to end the stigma attached to them.

“Failure to recognize substance-use disorder and mental health are medical issues and not behavioral issues,” she said.

Matt said her daughter was reluctant to go to treatment because of the stigma.

“Stop the Judgment Project” encourages an open dialogue about drug addiction and use and is dedicated to changing the way people think about addiction and the stigma.

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