Patrick Kennedy’s mental-health awareness and advocacy group The Kennedy Forum is one of eight leading organizations that on Monday announced the launch of a national campaign intended to “elevate mental health and addiction in policy conversations during the upcoming election season,” according to the organizations.
The campaign, “Mental Health for US,” Kennedy told The Journal, is aimed at candidates and forums as the general-election year of 2020 approaches and presidential hopefuls already are reaching out to voters.
” Read Also : Library of Congress Books Being Donated to Local Libraries “
“For far too long, those with mental-health and addiction challenges have been pushed to the side and treated as second-class citizens,” Kennedy said.
“Now we’re in the midst of a public health crisis, with suicides and overdoses leading to decreased U.S. life expectancy. More than ever, mental health care should be on the mind and in the policy platform of every elected leader. Our goal for this campaign is for Americans to speak with one powerful voice and say, ‘there is no health without mental health — prioritize this issue now!’”
In addition to Kennedy’s New Jersey-based organization, the new collation includes as founding members The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The Jed Foundation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, One Mind and the Scattergood Foundation. Several other groups have lent their support as well.
“Voters are encouraged to join Mental Health for US by signing a statement of support, sharing their stories, distributing resources and tools to encourage active civic engagement, and attending grassroots events to engage candidates,” the coalition said in a media release. “Organizations and policymakers are also encouraged to get involved — resources include communications toolkits, policy and issue briefs, and more.”
A website, www.mentalhealthforus.net, serves as a portal to the campaign.
Charlie Feldman, a member of the board of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a staff member at The Oasis Wellness and Recovery Centers of RI, told The Journal that “I feel that all Rhode Islanders need to come together to overcome the second-class status that people living with mental illness have historically received. Mental Health for US is a big step in the right direction.
“People with mental illness have had their services, which are necessary for recovery and for allowing them to contribute to society, slashed year after year. What we need is well-staffed community mental-health centers; basic needs met such as jobs, education, housing and food; and peer support, which allows people to take the first steps to see that recovery is real.
” Read Also : Stockade FC seeks first win against Rhode Island Reds ”
“When Rhode Islanders see that people living with mental illness are our neighbors, our friends, and our family members, and even ourselves, we can unite to speak out and educate everyone about the need to promote recovery for all. No one living with a mental illness should be left out of our community.”