You've registered for Affiliate Hill Day - now what?
- Learn about our Hill Day asks and practice your talking points with your state team by watching the virtual Advocacy Training that was held on Tuesday, February 27.
- Review and save the one-pagers on each ask to include in the follow-up thank you email to congressional staff. The one-pagers are available in the Affiliate Folder.
- Review our tips for running a successful legislative meeting.
- Check your meeting schedule in the Advocacy Associates platform.
- Send a thank you note to congressional staff after your meetings using our template.
- Use the social media toolkit to go on record on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and remember to tag the official accounts of your members of Congress.
- Share the action alerts on our asks in your newsletters and on your website to encourage your network to join our advocacy efforts.
- Set time aside to think of your lived experience story to share in meetings as storytelling can help drive home the point of your asks.
- Encourage your network to join MHA's Advocacy Network to send future advocacy letters to congress.
Thank you for your interest in Mental Health America's Affiliate Hill Day on Thursday, February 29, 2024. Hill Day is a critical opportunity for local and state affiliates to build relationships with their federal elected officials. MHA’s national policy team manages the schedule of in-person or virtual meetings for affiliates. Once an affiliate registers a meeting request will be submitted to their representation in the U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate. 30-minute meetings will take place between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm local time, so please block out the full day and let us know if there are potential scheduling conflicts in your registration. Advocates will not need to directly contact their officials until after their meetings conclude to send a follow up thank you email.
The Hill Day Advocacy Training/Kickoff meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 27, at 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. ET via Zoom. Advocacy Training is required to join congressional meetings on Thursday, February 29, 2024 and will include remarks from the policy team, congressional offices, and the meeting scheduling vendor.
Affiliates are encouraged to educate their congressional offices about the work being done on the ground in two key areas prevention/early intervention activities especially regarding need, research, or programs that are primarily youth- and young adult- focused, and; peer support, especially within or in partnership with clinical settings like community mental health centers. We look forward to putting the pressure on Congress from back home with six specific “asks” of Congress. See more about our asks in each of the one-pagers.
1. Fund an increase to the Community Mental Health Block Grant at $1.26 billion.
MHA and our partner organizations have successfully lobbied congressional appropriators to raise the MHBG to over a billion dollars in 2021 and were able to limit any cuts to this funding in the last appropriations cycle. Though House efforts to cut funding levels were avoided in the last few years, it is a top priority for MHA to not only avoid cuts but to increase the funding for this account which is a vital resource for states to offer community-based services.
2. Fund the Behavioral Health Coordinating Unit (BHCU) for youth mental health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for federal state coordination of youth-focused prevention activities at $2.5 million.
MHA and partner organizations have encouraged a greater focus on prevention and public health with respect to mental health care for youth in various settings and has been working closely with CDC on coordination of their adolescent mental health and suicide prevention efforts. We will continue to push congress to focus on primary prevention through a coordinating unit that will facilitate state- federal alignment on this key topic.
3. Fund the 988 Lifeline at $981.9 million (optional).
MHA joined Vibrant Emotional Health last year to request funding for local crisis services, the Lifeline network, and a public awareness campaign. This continues to be an MHA priority as suicide deaths are preventable and communities should be able to ensure the growth of Lifeline services to meet increasing demand.
4. Fund youth peer support research at National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) by including appropriations report language.
The number one area of desired advocacy for MHA’s Youth Policy Accelerator cohort is research on youth peer support as they value the practice but need more studies to reference in their advocacy. MHA screeners ages 14-18 years old have also indicated their desire for access more peer support and while we have some research on adult peer support there is very limited research on youth peer support. Thus, MHA is for the first-time asking Congress to prioritize research on youth peer support and to engage youth in determining the research agenda at NIMH.
5. Co-sponsor the PEERS in Medicare Act of 2023 to cover peer services in community mental health centers, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and Rural Health Clinics.
MHA and our partner organizations have successfully achieved recognition of peer support services within the Medicare program for integrated behavioral health care and for mobile crisis services and has grown bipartisan support for the peer specialist workforce. It is a top priority to continue to expand coverage of peer specialists across all Medicare settings and a new bill aims to expand to community service providers.
6. Co-sponsor the Youth Mental Health Research Act to authorize more funding of research on youth mental health interventions.
As there is bipartisan recognition of a youth mental health crisis that only grows, and workforce shortages are most acute for pediatric mental health care compared with adult care, MHA is excited to take up a research bill for hill day to authorize $100 million funding at the National Institutes of Health for multi-disciplinary, long-term studies on youth mental health interventions.
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 2023 Affiliate Hill Day website to learn about last year’s activities.