Since 1909, Mental Health America (MHA) has been the lead organization to prioritize the individual over interest groups as we advocate for legislation that affects the lives of people with mental health conditions and their families. That priority continues today, at a time when we focus on prevention, early identification and intervention, access to integrated care, and insurance parity for people with mental health conditions. Our expert staff and Public Policy Committee members produce well-researched policy statements on a wide range of issues – from civil liberties to children’s mental health – for public use. We work with policymakers to advance federal legislation, regulations, and agency activities that promote these priorities and position statements.
MHA is the national headquarters for a network of more than 200 affiliates around the country. Our affiliates work with state and local policymakers to develop and pass laws, regulations, and policies to promote mental health. MHA and our affiliates meet through the Regional Policy council to exchange ideas about best practices and barriers to regional, state, and local policy efforts and agency activities. Our state advocacy priorities include Medicaid expansion, integrating primary and mental health care services, and building peer supports, including recovery-oriented curricula.
The Regional Policy Council, or RPC, has connected national and state policy and advocacy on mental health since its inception in 2009. MHA transformed the program in 2016 and 2017 by connecting our work through the RPC to the work of the leading state health policymaker organizations – National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), National Governors Association (NGA), American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Council of State Governments (CSG). RPC meetings are now held four times a year, generally at the same time as national meetings of these groups, and cover areas of interest to both state policy leaders and state-level advocates.
MHA’s State of Mental Health in America report identifies a common set of data indicators for mental health that gives a more complete picture of mental health status in America. The report provides data on prevalence rates of mental health problems for youth and adults, and data on access to care for.
Ensuring people with mental health conditions are heard, MHA hosts a Capitol Hill Day each year to bring advocates to Congress to meet with the key decision-makers. Beginning with an in-depth training session on how to advocate to members of Congress, the day culminates with in-person visits to federal legislators on Capitol Hill.