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Alexandria, VA – Mental Health America (MHA) today presented its 2024 Governor’s Leadership Award to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. The award recognizes state leaders who champion and prioritize the mental health of the citizens of their state. Kelly joins a select group of bipartisan mental health champion governors who have been honored by MHA since the award was introduced in 2015.

MHA President and CEO Schoeder Stribling, Susan Crain Lewis, president and CEO of Mental Health America of the Heartland, and Mary Jones, president and CEO of Mental Health America of South Central Kansas, presented the award during a quarterly virtual gathering of mental health advocates.

“Mental Health America humbly congratulates Gov. Kelly and honors her for her unyielding efforts to protect and support the mental health of the people of Kansas," said Debbie Plotnick, MHA’s executive vice president of state and federal advocacy. “Gov. Kelly exemplifies this award, from her tireless advocacy to expand Medicaid, budgetary backing of the state’s crisis system, to her groundbreaking efforts to expand supports to youth with mental needs caught up in the criminal justice systems, and her repeated vetoes of legislation that would negatively impact the mental health of LBGT citizens.”

The Governor’s Award was followed by a virtual Regional Policy Council meeting for advocates nationwide. The meeting covered information advocates can use to inform their state’s policy priorities. Topics included advocacy for substance use disorders and ways to use opioid settlement funds; common challenges for employing peer specialists and paying for peers with private insurance; expanding 988; parity legislation; AI privacy; and how to message issues of housing and homelessness to state legislators.

The RPC is guided by MHA’s most knowledgeable public policy and executive affiliate leaders who work alongside MHA staff to mobilize grassroots and grasstops advocacy, share information, and provide and facilitate mentorship with affiliates about state and federal legislation and initiatives.


About Mental Health America

Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-driven nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being, resilience, recovery, and closing the mental health equity gap. Mental Health America’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of whole person health, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; and integrated care, services and supports for those who need them. Learn more at