NAMI West Houston's advocacy efforts seek to effect a positive change in the response of society, government and business to individuals with mental illness. We seek to promote this change by providing science based information that severe mental illnesses are brain disorders that can be treated and managed effectively if an individual has access to a combination of medication, supportive counseling and community support services, including education and vocational training.
Advocacy Opportunities for NAMI West Houston Members
- NAMI West Houston members from various state legislative districts are needed to serve as contacts with their state legislators. Members interested in serving as a contact should contact NAMI Texas.
- Ad hoc committees in the county are convened on occasion for various functions. NAMI members are needed to provide crucial input. Call the office at (832) 598-2760 to find out about the most recent opportunities.
- NAMI advocates write and phone their legislators to provide crucial support for various bills and legislative agendas related to mental health. See below for the latest "legislative contact" campaigns.
Would you like to help?
Do you have experience with a certain provider or agency? Many families call the office looking for advocacy help when dealing with a provider or agency. NAMI West Houston is looking for volunteer advocates who would be willing to help families advocate on their behalf. If you have expertise working with a certain provider or agency and would like to serve as an advocate for one of these, please call the office at (281) 579-3750.
Use the stories from your clinics and personal experience to help Legislators understand the medical and emotional vulnerability of the Texas mental health system. Write letters, send e-mails, make phone calls."
NAMI members should use her comments to help find our NAMI voice and weigh-in on this issue. The elimination of many mental health benefits over the past year has hit NAMI families hard! Currently, the only mental health "benefit" is for hospitalization. We need to impress upon the Legislative members not only that Texas mental healthcare must be saved, but that it should include an outpatient or targeted case management mental health benefit! One pragmatic reason in favor of adding back some mental health benefits is that it would help Texas show the federal government (i.e. CMS) that an expansion population is being served by Texas.
Mentally Ill Offender and Crime Reduction Act of 2003
The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2003 was passed by the U.S. Senate in October 2003.
Community service providers, advocates for mentally ill people and others in the corrections field have recognized that there are just not enough resources to divert the mentally ill from our corrections system, where they are unjustly misplaced for petty crimes and fill up our already over-crowded jails. The Bureau of Justice reports that in 1998, over 280,000 individuals in jail or prison and almost 550,000 of those on probation had a mental impairment. The mentally ill are very disproportionately represented in our jails and prisons. Five percent of all Americans have a serious mental illness, but sixteen to twenty percent of incarcerated individuals have a mental impairment.
Resources are desperately needed to provide solutions to this problem and to protect the rights of the mentally ill individual. The system needs money to fund diversion programs, expand community-based treatment, and help to support the fair treatment of individuals during their incarceration. The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2003 recognizes that a network of services is needed between the mental health and corrections systems to meet these challenges.
The bill creates a five-year program of grant money for states with grant funding authorized at $100 million in each of the next two years. The grant money could be used to establish mental health courts, provide for in-jail treatment and transitional services, as well as provide additional training for mental health personnel, police, judges, prosecutors, and corrections staff that deal with the mentally ill. The bill would provide incentives for the criminal justice, juvenile justice, mental health, and substance abuse treatment systems to work together at each level of government in establishing a network of services for the non-violent offender with mental illness.
The bill calls for an Interagency Task Force to be established at the federal level. This federal task force would include the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, also the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Commissioner of Social Security. The task force would be in charge of identifying ways the federal and local departments could work together to adopt policies that provide for appropriate services and placements for the mentally ill offender. It would also address the unfair treatment of this population in our jails and work to uphold the rights and meet the needs of the mentally ill individual.
With the passage by the Senate, the House of Representatives must now approve the Bill. NAMI advocates are urged to contact the following representatives to seek their support of this important bill.
Take Action Now! Use NAMI.orgs Advocacy tool to contact your representative.
Together We Can Make A Difference! Join Now!
Phone 832.598.2760| email firstname.lastname@example.org
Helpline 832.598.2760| Events line 832.598.2760
P.O. Box 218989, Houston, TX 77218-8989