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The Campaign for the Mind of America


NAMI is launching the Campaign for the Mind of America, a grassroots initiative to increase access to mental health treatment services by changing public policies and priorities at the local, state and federal levels. The Campaign emphasizes the need to dramatically improve access to treatment particularly among youth and young adults. It emphasizes the positive outcomes associated with early diagnosis and treatment, access to a full range of evidence-based practices including appropriate medications and community-based supports such as supported employment and housing. Improved access to mental health services has the effect of improving a community’s overall health, education, business and public safety while restricted access hurts these same sectors. Community leaders and policymakers will play a critical role in instituting change but they first must be educated further on the problem and understand that there are solutions.

How the Campaign Works

The Campaign consists of a 3-tiered strategy to improve access to treatment, services, and medication. The specific elements include national and state action networks and the Matters of Fact initiative that build consensus on reform through public outreach activities. Key advocates for the Campaign include audiences who all have some base knowledge on mental illness but for whom the issue has not yet become a top priority. Policymakers know and care about the issue, but it needs to be strategically communicated to them. Community leaders are aware of how mental illness affects their community and their profession. Many citizens care especially if they are personally touched by mental illness. Clear solutions need to be outlined so that policymakers and community leaders see an urgent problem that is solvable today.

National Action Network

A national advertising and public relations campaign kicks off in November 2003 to push the issue out to the public in order to create a national dialogue through strategic partnerships, media outreach, advertising initiatives and a rapid response team.

  • The National Network is a coalition of professional organizations that join together represented by leaders from education, healthcare, business and law enforcement. The coalition will be created in 2003 and evolves over the life of the campaign. The coalition will be engaged in a variety of tasks, including distributing direct mail to their databases, writing op-ed pieces and letters to the editor, meeting with policy makers, placing articles about the campaign in their organizations’ newsletters, etc.
  • Compelling Advertising will be produced to begin airing in November 2003. The print and broadcast advertising will feature real stories of community leaders from the groups mentioned above who are on the front lines everyday facing problems associated with lack of access to mental health treatment. These individuals will also testify to the effectiveness of treatment and its positive impact on the community as a whole. The advertising will be highly targeted toward policy makers in key states and in Washington, D.C.
  • An extensive public relations campaign begins in November 2003 to draw attention to the effectiveness of treatment and the problems caused in the community when access to mental health treatment, services, and medications are restricted.
  • As part of our public relations campaign, a rapid response team will begin immediately in November 2003. This team will be trained to comment on breaking news around the country about mental illness to ensure that the debate gets focused toward issues of access to treatment, services, and medication. The team will look for opportunities to communicate that recovery is possible and within reach, and that many tragedies making headlines and depicting people with mental illness in a negative way, are avoidable; they result from failed public policy.
  • An organized Speakers Bureau will activate the leaders of the coalition and other national spokespeople, including spokesperson from NAMI’s In Our Own Voice (a consumer speakers bureau), to bring attention and name recognition to the movement.

State Action Networks

The state-based campaigns will encompass all the activities of the National Action Network described above, and will target policy makers in key states to influence legislation and policies around access and to mental health treatment, services and medication. These State-based campaigns, including print and electronic ads will begin in November and will target policymakers and community leaders, to "connect the dots" so they understand how the broken system impacts them all. These campaigns will outline clear solutions so that policymakers and community leaders see an urgent problem that is solvable today.

  • State professional organizations link together to highlight the problem and proposed solutions.
  • Technical support from NAMI helps affiliates build these networks. The Campaign will create a Campaign for the Mind of America Local Marketing Guide with template news releases, ideas for local activities such as a "Lobby Day at the State Capitol", to assist the state campaigns in communicating in a consistent and strong voice with the national campaign.
  • Media support helps educate the public, community leaders, and policymakers on the problem and solutions.

Matters of Fact

A policy research and education component will support the national and state action networks with data collection, analysis, and public outreach activities.

  • A steering Committee of research professionals, building on NAMI’s Scientific Council, will help direct the research focus of the Campaign.
  • An extensive literature review will be conducted, beginning in October to bring together the best information available about the costs associated with restricted access and the benefits of treatment.
  • Focused research on the impact of inadequate access to treatment on education, healthcare, business and law enforcement will be commissioned either in the 4th quarter of 2003 or 1st quarter of 2004 to fill in knowledge gaps.
  • National and state media coverage makes a science-based case that the system is broken, that we are paying a high price as a result, and that we have cost-effective solutions. The media relations’ campaign will begin in the 4th quarter of 2003.

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