By Happy Carlock
One in five adults experiences a mental health condition. That’s about 45 million Americans. Meanwhile, Congress is proposing legislation that would roll back mental health parity for many health insurance plans and drastically reduce Medicaid services—a move that would likely affect all 45 million.
On June 29, NAMI advocates from across the country will brave the D.C. summer heat to meet with offices on Capitol Hill and advocate for mental health services and supports as part of the 2017 NAMI National Convention. Nearly 1,000 people have registered for Hill Day, but we still have spots available and we want you to fill one.
We need an army of advocates to meet with Congressional offices and educate them about how they can improve the lives of their constituents with mental illness. Here are a few reasons why you should join us:
Advocating on legislation is one of the most impactful and exciting ways to take part in the political process. This is your opportunity to walk the halls of Congress and get an up-close view of democracy. Now more than ever, members of Congress are gaining a better understanding of mental health and substance abuse issues. Keep the momentum going by meeting with your legislator and making NAMI’s voice stronger.
Before you head to the Hill, you’ll have the chance to listen to two mental health champions: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Join our legislative plenary on Thursday morning, where these key players in the 21st Century Cures Act will rally everyone to take NAMI’s message to Congress. The senators will discuss what needs to be done to improve our nation’s mental health and criminal justice systems, as well as the important role that advocates play.
Speaking to your elected officials may sound intimidating. That’s why we’ll give you an overview of a typical meeting with a legislator and provide background on the issues and talking points. Come to NAMI’s policy team briefing to get the latest information on Congress and NAMI’s policy priorities. We’ll teach you how to effectively share your story and make an ask of Congress members.
Everybody has a story, but not everybody gets the opportunity to share their story with a member of Congress. NAMI’s Hill Day is our opportunity to stand together and speak up about mental health. Together, we can remind Congress that mental illness affects everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or age. We can remind them that without mental health care, Americans pay a high price in unemployment, homelessness and criminalization. As NAMI members, we know that treatment works and recovery is possible. Let’s make sure Congress knows as well.
If we have you convinced, register for the NAMI Convention; your last chance to save on registration expires May 31. Help us reach our Hill Day goal of visiting all 100 Senate offices and 435 House offices. Each one of us has the power to influence policymakers—this is your chance.
Happy Carlock is coordinator of advocacy & public policy at NAMI.
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