By Courtney Reyers, NAMI Publications Manager
When it comes to mental health care, being familiar with policy issues and actively supporting policymakers can make all the difference in the services and treatments available for individuals and families living with mental illness.
“The candidates we elect this year will decide who gets mental health care, for how long and what recovery supports are available,” said NAMI's Board Vice-president Keris Myrick.
Treatment options and supports are seriously neglected and/or underfunded in the United States. Learning the agendas of potential candidates can lead to informed choices that, in turn, can improve the services and treatments available—as well as have impact on the service mental health care professionals provide.
“As a past Senate President and Lieutenant Governor in Connecticut, I know that candidates do listen when voters talk to them about issues,” NAMI Board President Kevin Sullivan said.
NAMI’s new Web section, "Mental Health Care Gets My Vote," was launched this month to highlight the serious issues at play in the mental health community and mobilize people to participate in the 2012 elections. Information and tools, including detailed breakdowns of state election laws and the rights of people living with disabilities, can be found in the new web section, which aims to mobilize grassroots voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts for the general election and engage in dialogue with candidates, regardless of party. The website offers downloadable, printable tip sheets on how to ask candidates questions, make a statement, meet and connect with candidates and respond positively.
This year, get involved when it counts the most. Visit www.nami.org/election to inform yourself and take action. You can also watch a video of NAMI board members talking about the importance of elections.