Change Doesn’t Happen in a Moment, It Happens in a Movement

By Krystle Canare | Nov. 02, 2015

In early October, NAMI joined over 600 attendees and nine other partner organizations for the 11th Annual Hill Day, a two-day event consisting of panels, celebrity keynotes educational breakout sessions, meetings with Congress and a public policy institute to learn about federal behavioral health policy. Hill Day brought together behavioral health providers, administrators, board members, advocates and community stakeholders from across the nation to call for better resources for mental health and addictions treatment in our communities. 

For NAMI, this meant voicing the importance of comprehensive mental health reform. With the introduction of two major pieces of legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR 2646) and Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S 1945), Hill Day presented a timely opportunity for NAMI and other advocates to take to the steps of the Capitol to urge Congressional support.

While neither bill is a perfect fix, the passage of both bills would improve our nation’s mental health system by focusing on outcomes, breaking down barriers for individuals and families to access services and supports and expanding the availability of evidence-based practices.

Andrew Sperling, NAMI Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy, spoke at the event urging the need for true mental health parity with community health centers and modifications to the Institutions for Mental Illness (IMD) exclusion because currently, individual patients' eligibility for Medicaid is revoked while they are inpatients in an IMD.

Other notable voices at Hill Day included TV talk show host Dr. Oz and singer/songwriter Demi Lovato, whose stories amplified the need to address not only federal legislation, but public perception as well.hillday2.png

In his Keynote, Dr. Oz addressed fear as the “elephant in the room” that has stunted the movement for mental health and addictions recovery. Fear, he suggested, is why he’s run 5Ks for breast cancer, dumped ice for ALS, but has never been asked to do something for mental health or addictions.

Yet while such stigma exists, Dr. Oz deemed that the “renaissance for recovery” has arrived. Much like the de-stigmatization of cancer in years past, he explained that elevating and shifting the conversation to one of compassion and outreach will change the perception surrounding mental illness and addiction.

Similarly, special guest Demi Lovato shared her story about living well with Bipolar disorder as an opportunity to break the silence regarding mental illness. “It is equally as important to speak up about it as it is to get help,” Lovato says. Her platform, Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health, teams up with NAMI and other leading mental health advocacy organizations in an initiative that encourages people and communities across America to use their voice in support of mental health.

While Hill Day serves as a testament that change is possible, there is still much to be done to improve the quality of services and access of care for mental health and addictions services.

Here are a few things you can do to continue to advocate for mental health:

Comments
ruth visclosky
my son suffered lack of oxygen at birth and has mild to moderate cognitive problems. he has been diagosned as bipolar and has smi status. as his problem is a birth problem he can't get ddd help. the mental health system has not helped him and he spends his life lying in bed looking at the wall. I complained to the govener and found out if you complain you will be punished. as doing the same thing over and over has not helped him I am starting to believe that his problems are a result of brain damage, however, if you get lack of oxygen at birth there are no services. if you ask the smi system for medication you better be happy with what you get because no one seems to care if they help or not. my son has never been helped by medication and when he is forced to take them, he turns into a zombie. I have supported my son for 37 years. I can't figure out what to do. I can't find anyone to help me as I am just sent to someone else who can't help who sents me to someone else, etc. he was court ordered and I tried asking his attorney for help in getting him help with provider who could work with someone who understands cognitive disorders and severe PTSD. She would not even allow me into the court room as the system had already said he can't get any special services. when he went to the hospital the psychiatrist wanted to release him after four days but the mental health clinic demanded he be court ordered. actually they wanted to get him a guardian so that I would stop begging for help that worked. as he has no income he couldn't get a guardian because he has no income. he is 37 years old and I believe that there must be someone who can help him find a better life that lying in bed looking at the wall. this year I finally gave up all hope. no one cares and I am forced to watch my son suffered alone everyday.
1/15/2017 1:27:16 PM