IN THIS ISSUE:
- From Chuck’s Chair: A Vision Coming to Life
- Upcoming Ambassador Activities: Hill Day 2015, Quarterly Call
- Ambassador Spotlight: Tell us about the work you are doing!
- Dispatch from Capitol Hill: Three Numbers that Matter in Year Two of the Ambassador Network
- State of Play: The latest news on National Council legislative priorities
- Advice and Counsel: Countdown to Kickoff… Your Advocacy Superbowl is in October
- Briefly Noted: Interesting articles on our radar
FROM CHUCK’S CHAIR
Dear National Council Ambassadors,
When we launched the Ambassador Network last summer, the National Council had a vision of fierce, powerful advocates helping shape the national political discussion on mental health and addiction by building strong relationships with their U.S. Senators and Representatives. A year later, we are starting to see that vision come to life. Congratulations on your hard work and advocacy.
As we head into our second year, I’ve been reflecting on the goals and purpose of the Network, which are: 1) to empower YOU with the skills you need to be effective advocates; and 2) to help you strengthen relationships with federal lawmakers whose decisions affect your day-to-day work.
Which U.S. Senator(s) and/or Representative are you working on building your relationship with? Is there more that we can do to help? Please don’t hesitate to let us know!
And, as always, thank you for all that you do.
Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Practice Improvement
National Council Hill Day 2015
When: October 5-6, 2015
Where: Register online here!
All year you have been building relationships with your members of Congress and Hill Day is the culmination of your hard work. National Council Hill Day 2015 will have over 500 advocates from 9 organizations descending upon Capitol Hill, joining some of the biggest names in politics, policy, and even entertainment. Register here and show off your superstar advocacy skills!
Ambassador Quarterly Call
When: July 29, 2015
Where: Register online here!
Save the date in your calendars for the next quarterly call. Join us as we kick off the second year of the Ambassador Network! Special guest, Kevin Gottlieb, will join to bring you tips on taking your advocacy to the next level. Register online here.
Speak up! Tell us about the great work you are doing in your community.
As the year rolls on, be sure to keep sharing the fantastic work you are doing so we can feature you here and share your stories with your peers!
Remember, your expertise and relationships in Congress have a huge impact on our policy agenda. For your Member of Congress, you are an expert, a resource and most importantly… a constituent. Your member wants to hear from you and so do we. Share your advocacy story with us today!
DISPATCH FROM CAPITOL HILL
Three Numbers that Matter in Year Two of the Ambassador Network
Political advocacy can be a tough game. It requires perseverance and vision and an attitude that never quits. It demands recognition of the small victories because they give us the energy to keep fighting and pushing forward. But it also demands we step back and celebrate the big victories, too. We celebrate the amazing achievements of the past year, the growth of an important movement, and the hope we have for the future.
As we kick off Year Two of the Ambassador Network, the National Council wants to take a minute and celebrate you and congratulate you on the amazing work you have done this year. We celebrate the growth of this network of superstar advocates and the hope we have for the amazing work we know you will do. The future is bright – see how far the Network has come over the last year.
Three Numbers that Matter
237: The National Council Ambassador Network currently has 237 members. Since July 2014, the Network has added over 100 new members, growing not just in size, but prestige as well. At National Council Conference, Ambassadors sported their new lapel pins and raised awareness of the importance of advocacy by spreading the word about the important work you all do.
At National Council Hill Day, Ambassadors will again be on display – this time in VIP receptions, at the front of meet and greet lines with Hill Day headliners (Chuck Todd, anyone??), and much more. The larger the Network grows, the greater our ability to influence change in the halls of Congress.
45: There are now Ambassadors in 45 states across the country, meaning we too could join the race for President in 2016! Having such a robust presence in the Senate allows our message to be heard throughout the offices on Capitol Hill, particularly in important Senate Committees where we have Ambassadors in 90% of key committee states. Gaining access and building relationships with members on these committees in paramount to our advocacy efforts. By continuing to grow our Network and advocacy in these states, we will continue to grow our political power to advance mental health and addictions policies.
141: Ambassadors cover 141 Congressional Districts – that’s nearly one-third of the House of Representatives! While Senators cover the entire state, Representatives cover your district and your district alone. They are members of your community, know families in your town and may even know consumers who receive services from your organization. Building close, working relationships and gaining a champion of mental health and addictions issues is key to navigating the larger body of Congress. Start engaging with your Representative and bring these important policy issues to life by inviting them on a site visit right in their own backyard.
Congratulations on a great first year of the National Council Ambassadors Network! We can’t wait to continue working with you over the year ahead.
STATE OF PLAY
Excellence in Mental Health Act
We are down to 27 days and counting until the August 5, 2015 deadline for states to apply for Excellence in Mental Health Act Planning Grants. As states across the country begin preparing to submit applications, the National Council wants to make sure you have everything you need to be ready to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). The National Council has a host of resources to help states and organizations plan and prepare for this momentous shift.
Appropriations season rolled on with both House and Senate appropriators making progress in setting funding levels for fiscal year 2016. The Senate and House Appropriations Committees have both passed final versions of their Labor-HHS funding bills, but differences in the final funding numbers between House and Senate appropriation bills must still be resolved. For a breakdown of proposed funding levels, click here.
Mental Health First Aid Act
Mental Health First Aid funding levels were maintained in both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee versions of the Labor-HHS funding bill for FY2016. Meanwhile, legislation that would expand access to Mental Health First Aid as well as increase funding for this important training program has been introduced in both chambers. Check out our fact sheet on the Mental Health First Aid Act (S.711/H.R.1877) to see if your member has signed on in support.
ADVICE AND COUNSEL
Countdown to Kickoff… Your Advocacy Superbowl is in October
Over the last year, we have been working with you to help you build and strengthen relationships with your Members of Congress and their staff. Whether you are well known in your members’ offices or have yet to schedule a meeting, there is one advocacy event you won’t want to miss: the culmination of all of your hard work and your chance to demonstrate your superior advocacy skills in front of your peers. Get ready for the advocacy Superbowl…
This year, the National Council is partnering with 8 other national advocacy organizations to make Hill Day the best it has ever been. Over 500 advocates from across the nation will descend upon DC with one goal – changing the minds of Congress and sharing with them why mental health and addictions policies matter. As Ambassadors, we know you have the tools and experience to lead these advocates and show them how best to influence lawmakers and staff.
More than Just Meetings… You’re a VIP!
As the prominence of National Council Hill Day continues to rise, so too do the headliners we bring in each year. For 2015, we are thrilled to be joined by moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd! NBC’s former White House Correspondent and now NBC News Political Director, Chuck Todd is known as “the most powerful journalist in Washington” and one of DC’s foremost experts on political campaigns of all levels. At Hill Day, National Council Ambassadors will have the opportunity for a meet and greet with Todd as well as getting to learn more about the ins and outs of politics in Washington.
Lay the ground work for Hill Day by engaging with your Member at home this summer.
October is still a few months away, so you should have time to squeeze in a meeting at home this summer before coming to DC in the fall. Last week, the Ambassador Talking Points provided a deep-dive on engaging with legislators while they are home in your districts during the various summer recesses. These times at home are a perfect opportunity to schedule a meeting, bring them out for a site visit, or attend a town hall event. Read the Ambassador Talking Points here.
Here are a few thought-provoking articles and resources that we’ve come across recently. Happy reading!
Mental Health Policy needs to move on from the 1960s. Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy spoke about his desire to bring mental health policy “out of the dark ages,” saying society needs to start looking at mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders as biological diseases, not flaws in moral character. Read more here.
Antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed to the wrong people. A new study indicates that use of these drugs has been on the rise among adolescents, despite the fact most had not been diagnosed with a mental disorder. A researcher says this happens so frequently because antipsychotic drugs provide a “fast relief” for children with behaviors that are difficult to manage. Read more here.