Engage Candidates

Understanding how different policymakers impact mental health services and supports – and what you can do to educate them about mental illness – is critical to #Vote4MentalHealth. 

Talking to candidates prior to an election can help you learn where they stand on the issues you care about when you vote. Once elected, these individuals will represent you – so it is important that you know their views. 

Below are some tips for educating and engaging candidates:

  1. Learn about all candidates. Seek out all the candidates, not just the ones you think you support. This will help you understand where they all stand on a wide variety of issues. It’s also a good way to educate all candidates, regardless of who you vote for, about mental health. Follow candidates on social media and sign up for their e-newsletters to learn of events and other opportunities to interact, and read about their policy proposals on their website.
  2. Share your story. If you are comfortable, sharing how your personal experience with mental illness has affected you or a loved one makes issues real to candidates. Your story builds a personal connection with candidates, helps them remember you and keeps mental health front and center. Keep your story brief – about 90 seconds, just hitting the highlights.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Don’t feed an answer to a candidate. Talk to them with an open mind and a general curiosity about their positions to learn about what solutions they propose. Ask questions like: “What will you do to increase the availability of mental health services and supports in our community?” Listen carefully to their answers and acknowledge the points that they make. They may ask for your ideas, so be ready to share your thoughts.
  4. Talk to campaign staff. Staffers are a great way to learn about where candidates stand on issues when you can’t speak to the candidate directly. When you show your knowledge and personal commitment to these issues, they may also seek you out to provide feedback on related issues. This is a great way to develop relationships with future policymakers and their staff.
  5. Follow-up after the election. Once a candidate is elected, being an engaged and active advocate helps build momentum on your issue. Share your knowledge and experience with the policymaker’s staff and offer to be a resource to that office. Sign up for their e-newsletter or follow their official social media account to learn what they are working on.

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  • Visit our Get Involved page for more resources and templates