It is often said that budgets are the ultimate policy document. It's a reflection of the old adage to "put your money where your mouth is". Legislators can say they support mental health, but if funding for services is not provided those are empty promises. As a result, budget advocacy is one of the cornerstones of mental health advocacy.
And state budgets are especially critical for mental health advocates. While this document will note that federal decisions play a significant role in some areas (such as housing) and shape the parameters of what states can do in other areas (Medicaid), States have historically had the lead role in development and implementation of public mental health systems.1
Please visit the following pages to learn more about state budget advocacy:
State Budget Advocacy Webinar
Mental Health America hosted a webinar on State Budget Advocacy, featuring Shel Gross of the MHA of Wisconsin and Ellyn Jeager of the MHA of Georgia. The webinar focuses on the state budget process and budget areas that are important to mental health, and describes ways of using MHA's State Budget toolkit for effective advocacy. You can download the powerpoint here.
1 States also play a key role with regard to private mental health services, but this is not generally addressed through the budget. Bills addressing state statutory requirements, such as private health insurance mandates or provider licensure, are advanced outside the budget process.