The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched a website, "Mental Health Care Gets My Vote," to mobilize individuals and families affected by mental illness to participate in the 2012 elections. Goals include grassroots voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts for the general election, dialogues with candidates, and encouraging people to volunteer on election campaigns, regardless of party.
Approximately one in four Americans experience a mental health problem in any given year. NAMI is the nation's largest mental health organization. It is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates.
"Mental Illness does not discriminate," said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "It cuts across all party lines."
The "Mental Health Gets My Vote" website is stocked with information and tools, including detailed breakdowns of state election laws and the rights of people living with disabilities in a "Right to Vote" section.
"As a past Senate President and Lieutenant Governor in Connecticut, I know that candidates do listen when voters talk to them about issues," declares NAMI National Board President Kevin Sullivan, in a video.
The website offers "tip sheets" to encourage individuals and families to:
- Ask a Question
- Make a Statement
- Meet with Candidates
- Respond Positively
- Connect with Candidates
NAMI's "action agenda" is presented. A separate "candidate kit" includes a fact sheet about mental illness and "policy priority" briefings about:
- protecting public mental health services
- protecting Medicaid funding expanding mental health care insurance coverage, and
- establishing ranges of mental health services and supports for both adults and youth
"The candidates we elect this year will decide who gets mental health care, for how long and what recovery supports are available," says NAMI's National Board Vice-President Kyris Myrick in a video.
The "Ask a Question" sheet suggests people ask candidates: "What will you do to address the mental health needs of veterans and military families?"
The "Make a Statement" sheet suggests Twitter messages including: "Over 50% of students with a mental disorder over 14 drop out of school. Early intervention can save lives. #vote4mentalhealth."