Michael J. Cohen,
NAMI NH, Executive Director
“It doesn’t matter if I vote, my candidate never wins.” “It doesn’t matter if I vote, what difference does it make, they are all the same, no matter the party.” “It doesn’t matter if I vote; one vote makes no difference, besides I am out of town that day.” These are the excuses I have heard over many years as I talked with fellow NAMI members about the importance of voting. Advocacy is in our NAMI blood, it is the heart and soul of our mission-voting is one of the most meaningful advocacy efforts an individual can do. It is the small “d” democratic, thing to do.
In 1999, when I first arrived at NAMI NH I was engaged in NAMI National’s campaign, “I VOTE, I COUNT. To this day I truly believe it. My vote counts, your vote counts. When I vote, my voice is heard.
Over the past year and a half, the nation has experienced significant changes; a new president and Congress, a “great recession”, the passage of parity legislation, the passage of health reform. Regardless of your politics, these issues demand your attention. Not only must we, as NAMI advocates, work to assure that the continuing recession does not erode mental health care services further; that in fact, mental health care services must be restored; that full parity is assured in each and every state and that the multiple benefits of health reform (see link to NAMI National fact sheet) for persons with mental disorders is achieved. By voting for candidates who support your interest in mental health care, it matters to more than just you. Voting matters at the local level, in the primaries, in the general election. Your vote can make a substantial difference for the mental health care for our loved ones. Vote, it counts!