Advocating for better mental health services can be both personally satisfying and highly effective in improving the lives of those with serious mental illnesses. It can be a powerful tool in getting support for oneself and/or a loved one, and it is often a healing and coping strategy, helping to channel frustration into positive action.
NAMI-Cambridge/Middlesex, working with NAMI Massachusetts, provides opportunities for learning how to advocate, getting important background information, and taking action.
In a recent Boston Globe article State Representative Denise Garlick advised readers how to make things happen: “Talk, don’t just tweet. Call, don’t just post. Join, don’t ignore. Picking up the phone and sharing your story with your representative, introducing yourself at a public meeting and speaking out, organizing a 5K in support of a cause, all of those dwarf the impact any Facebook post, e-mail, or tweet will have.”
Annual NAMI Mass Advocacy Day
Monday, April 9, 2018, 10 am to 2 pm
Great Hall, Massachusetts State House
Make your voice heard at this important annual event. Everyone is invited to come to the State House for lunch, inspirational presentations, and a visit to your legislators advocating to restore DMH funding and about supporting upcoming mental health bills.
Guides to legislators available.
2018 Advocacy Day: http://namimass.org/events/2018-nami-mass-advocacy-day
Advocating in the state legislature
It is important for anyone impacted by mental health issues to know your state legislators. It establishes a relationship that can be important for you or a loved one, as legislators can sometimes be helpful in getting resources for constituents dealing with mental health issues. Also, it raises awareness among legislators of the importance of mental health funding and services and creates a connection that you can use to advocate for specific bills as they come up.
Find your state senator and state representative, including their contact information, at http://wheredoivotema.com/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx
Learn more about how to tell your story effectively in meeting with legislators at: https://www.nami.org/get-involved/share-your-story
The mental health system in Massachusetts is consistently described by media and political leaders as “broken” or “failed.” As most consumers and family members know first hand, there are critical gaps and shortages in services and treatment. It is essential to educate legislators about the need for funding to provide a continuum of care, and a safety net for our most vulnerable loved ones. Particularly important is advocacy for the budget of the Department of Mental Health, under whose auspices most public mental health services are administered.
Of continuing importance is criminal justice reform, including training for police and first responders in how to handle safely and compassionately their encounters with people having mental health crises.
A particular focus is reform at Bridgewater State Hospital, with NAMI Mass and NAMI Cambridge teaming up to advocate for transfer of the facility, now a prison under the auspices of the Department of Corrections, to the auspices of the Department of Mental Health, like all other states except Iowa. This transfer is recommended to address the poor quality of care documented in recent Boston Globe coverage.