Start the New Year by Using Your Voice for Change
Clicking buttons and reposting images on social media is easy. This type of action is sometimes called clicktivism and is dismissed as ineffective. While it does not substitute for other forms of advocacy, online activism is more effective than it initially appears.
Social media has become a handy tool for activism in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. Activists can instantaneously share information about virtual coalitions, webinars, town hall meetings, sign petitions, and write letters to policymakers. These online actions ultimately spread awareness, which is the underpinning element of advocacy.
DBSA’s Advocacy Center shares the various ways advocates can become informed about key policy issues related to mental health parity and accessibility and get involved with offline activism. Gaining knowledge about injustices and policy issues is the first step to advocacy. Seeing online activism often inspires people to engage in organizations and movements. Contrary to popular opinion, online actions become undeniably effective when combined with offline activism; Lasting change happens when online action leads to offline action.
Funding Still Uncertain Leading Up to Launch of 988 Mental Health Emergency Line
As states around the country prepare to launch 988, the national mental health crisis hotline, funding the service is still a concern.
In 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed Senate Bill S6194B, establishing a 988 mental health crisis hotline system and providing crisis intervention service coordination. While the passage of the bill is a huge step forward, the legislation did not include funding.
This year in Illinois, Senate Bill SB2945, if passed, will create the 988 Trust Fund Act. The Department of Human Services will use money in the fund to develop and maintain a statewide suicide prevention and mental health crisis system.
Similar bills have been introduced in states around the country. DBSA is compiling an advocacy toolkit that you can use to reach out to your policymakers to encourage them to pass funding for these services. We’ll be sharing that with you shortly. Let’s make sure your state includes funding as we gear up for the next round of our advocacy efforts.
Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick with These Tips
New Year’s resolutions are commitments to care for yourself. The new year can be a time to take stock of what is and is not working with your health, relationships, finances, or daily routines and to make positive changes.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends that resolutions or goals be realistic and achievable so “there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your everyday life.”
The APA suggests to:
- Start small
- Change one behavior at a time
- Talk about it
- Don’t beat yourself up
- Ask for support
Resolutions are goals that can offer a view of your starting point and the path that you may take to help you arrive at an improved condition, one step at a time.
- The US Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury, issued the 2022 Report to Congress: Realizing Parity, Reducing Stigma, and Raising Awareness. This report serves covers compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (MHPAEA) and comparative analysis of Non-Quantitative Treatment Limitations (NQTL) required under the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The link also includes the 2021 MHPAEA enforcement fact sheet. The documents are available at Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).
- House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Mike Bost have introduced the Supporting The Resiliency of Our Nation’s Great Veterans Act, or STRONG Veterans Act of 2022. This piece of legislation includes the text of the Veteran Peer Specialist Act of 2021, introduced last year with the support of DBSA. The bill has broad bipartisan support as it seeks to improve veterans’ health care on a wide range of issues and is expected to see final passage through Congress later this spring.
- Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a $282 million investment to support the transition of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to a three-digit dialing code – 988. $177 million of that will strengthen and expand existing Lifeline operations and infrastructure, including a centralized chat, test response, and special services such as a sub-network for Spanish speakers. The remaining $105 million will build staffing levels across local crisis call centers in states.