Five years ago, my mother revealed to me that she struggled with clinical depression and was having thoughts of suicide. I was 7 months pregnant at the time with my son and didn’t know how to respond or properly help her. Nevertheless, her honesty planted a seed in me to help find her support and my faith led me on a career changing journey to find my calling in Counseling and Mental Health Advocacy.
On October 5 & 6, 2015 I attended the National Council of Behavioral Health (NCBH) “Hill Day 2015” events to be a voice for my mother and other diverse individuals struggling with mental illness as well as lack of access to care and quality services.
The NCBH Hill Day events included several seminars and speaker sessions featuring the following leaders in the field:
Linda Rosenberg, President, National Council for Behavioral Health
Phyllis Foxworth, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Debbie Plotnick, Mental Health America
Andrew Sperling, National Alliance for Mental Illness
Michael Botticelli, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy
Chuck Todd, Meet the Press
Dr. Mehmet Oz, Host, The Dr. Oz Show
Demi Lavato, Entertainer, Mental Health Advocate
Among the 600 advocates in attendance, like myself, were human service industry CEOs, people in recovery, and other behavioral health professionals. Many shared their views, asked pivotal questions, and had the opportunity to share mental health stories and stat's with U.S. Congressmen and Senators. Our goal was to increase awareness and gain support for the Mental Health First Aid Act, Mental Health Access Improvement Act, Comprehensive Mental Health Reform, and other issues as found here: NCBH Hill Day.
In brief, I see the big picture now. Passion for change goes nowhere unless we collaborate, grow political support and provide a positive platform to advocate for our community. It’s time for us to be vocal and speak up for change! Join me and be the change you want to see in your community today- you can do it! Your life matters.
What is Hill Day?
Each year at the National Council’s Hill Day, hundreds of behavioral health providers, administrators, board members, consumers, and community stakeholders come to D.C. for a day of sessions and workshops on federal behavioral health policy, followed by visits with their elected officials on Capitol Hill to advocate for better resources for mental health and addictions treatment in our communities.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL
National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with 2,300 member organizations, it serves more than eight million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The organization is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life. The National Council, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and has trained 450,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. For more information, visit their site: http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/events-and-training/hill-day/faqs/