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Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

Over 600 Advocates Are Heard at Hill Day 2018

April 27, 2018 | Hill Day | Comments
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On Wednesday, the National Council for Behavioral Health, along with 18 Hill Day partner organizations, hosted over 600 advocates who took to Capitol Hill for Hill Day 2018. The National Council and Hill Day partners thank these advocates for unifying their voices in support of key legislative priorities, including the continuation and expansion of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Advocates were energized by two days of NatCon18 and a rousing call to action from Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) before flooding congressional offices to voice their support on a host of mental health and addiction-focused legislative issues.

Hill Day advocates educated Members of Congress and their staff on key legislative mental health and addiction issues and urged them to: support funding for certain substance use and mental health priorities for FY 2019; cosponsor legislation that would expand the current CCBHC program; support a bill to allow marriage and family therapists and counselors to bill Medicare; expand the addiction treatment workforce through new student loan forgiveness opportunities; support an updated version of a bill (CARA 2.0) that would provide state grants for addiction prevention, treatment and recovery programs; incentivize behavioral health providers to adopt updated health IT standards; and expand access to evidence-based behavioral health treatment in schools. For a full list of the Hill Day legislative priorities, check out the Hill Day 2018 fact sheets.

While Hill Day 2018 is over, the advocacy efforts are not. Here are a few key ways to build meaningful relationships with your congressional staff back home:

  • Follow-up with your hand-outs. It is so important to send a follow-up note to those you met with within one to two days. E-mail is the easiest way to connect. Thank them for their time, reiterate your ask, and be sure to attach any of your relevant leave-behinds.
  • Schedule a district meeting. It is powerful to meet with congressional staff in D.C. but local offices are crucial too. Developing relationships in your state can increase the impact of your advocacy efforts.
  • Invite your legislator on a site visit. Site visits provide legislators an opportunity to see firsthand the great work happening in the community and how better funding or legislation could magnify its impact. The steps to plan and execute a site visit are easy. Have questions? Let the National Council know how we can help.
  • Interact on social media. Engagement takes many forms, and following your Representatives and Senators on Facebook or Twitter is quick and lets you access them in real time. Tag them in key conversations in your community by using hashtags like #BH365 and urge them to support your priorities.

The National Council thanks all attendees and advocates for their efforts this week to “be heard.” We give special thanks and appreciation to the dedicated and hardworking State Captains for their tremendous work and contributions to this event. For Hill Day 2018 resources, check out the website here.