So you've participated in Affiliate Hill Day - now what?
- Review the fact sheets and talking points
- Review tips for a successful legislative meeting
- Think of your lived experience story to share with Congress
- Go on record on social media - download the social media toolkit with sample posts
- Use our template to follow up your meetings with a thank you note that repeats your asks
- Send an email to Congress on our priorities and future topics
- Subscribe to the Advocacy Network
Thank you for your interest in Mental Health America's Affiliate Hill Day on Wednesday, March 8, 2023. Hill Day is an important opportunity for affiliates to build relationships with their elected representation in the U.S. House and Senate chambers.
This Hill Day, affiliates are encouraged to educate their congressional offices about the work being done on the ground in two key areas:
- prevention / early intervention, especially in youth and young adults, and
- peer support, especially in clinical settings.
Hill Day is open to all affiliate staff and leadership (including board members) and is not open to organizations or individuals outside of the MHA affiliate field. Scheduling assistance will be provided to advocates participating in Hill Day. Thus, advocates will not need to directly contact their officials until the day after Hill Day to send a follow up note. After registering, advocates will be contacted by Soapbox Consulting to confirm meeting times and be paired with others from the same state. Each advocate is asked to take up to three meetings with their two Senators and one House Representative. Once registered, the video link to join the advocacy training will show on the confirmation page and will be emailed to you. We look forward to putting the pressure on Congress from back home.
For this year we are making three specific “asks” of Congress:
1) Prevention Set Aside in the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG)
MHA and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) led efforts to secure a prevention and early intervention set aside within the mental health block grant. This involved advocacy with the Administration to get the set-aside included in the federal budget, which was achieved. It also included legislative advocacy which was fruitful as the set aside was included in a House-passed bill reauthorizing SAMHSA programs (HR 7666) as well as a Senate bipartisan bill (S. 4170). It was also included in both the House and Senate appropriations committee drafts but did not make it into a final bill. In the 118th Congress, getting enacted a set aside is MHA’s top priority.
2) Covering Certified Peer Support Specialists in Medicare
In the 117th Congress, MHA achieved recognition of peer support services within the Medicare program for the first time as part of integrated primary care and mobile crisis services. MHA grew bipartisan support for and understanding of certified peer specialists and their importance in supplementing the behavioral health workforce amidst growing shortages. We were also key in ensuring the Administration’s new Office of Recovery appreciates the lived experience of peer support specialists and the actions needed to secure a livable wage and reciprocity across states for peer specialists. It is a top priority to expand coverage of peer specialists broadly across all Medicare settings and a new bill will create a provider category under Medicare to ensure peer support services are billable in any setting.
3) Funding for Adolescent Mental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
During the 117th Congress, MHA and partner organizations were able to encourage a greater focus on prevention with respect to mental health care for youth in research, in school- and community settings, and in health clinics. In Congressional report language in the FY23 funding bill, congress required coordination of adolescent mental health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MHA has been working closely with CDC on coordination of their adolescent mental health efforts, including data gathering and sharing, school prevention funding for mental health, and suicide prevention funding to develop a strategy and implementation to drive a more preventive approach to youth mental health. MHA will continue to educate congress on the importance of investing in primary prevention and mental health for youth as part of public health activities.
4) Funding for local crisis services 988 Lifeline
MHA’s Advocacy and Policy team is hosting Hill Day as part of a nationwide movement toward a robust mental health system that promotes prevention and early intervention initiatives, access to integrated community-based treatments, and supports that are recovery-focused and that encompass community inclusion.
MHA – founded in 1909 – is the nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them, with recovery as the goal. Much of our current work is guided by the Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4) philosophy – that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach a chronic stage.
Visit MHA's 2022 Affiliate Hill Day Website to learn about last year’s activities.
For any questions, please contact Caren Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org.