Learn about Advocacy
Advocacy, as defined by the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, is “the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending a cause or course of action”. As advocates for those of us with mental illness and for our loved ones, we must plan a “course of action” if we are to have any impact on the current system of mental health care as it is. We must state loud and clear to legislators what is needed to improve the plight of those coping with these disorders. Currently, the funding for the mental health delivery system is dwindling, with more and more people seeking assistance. This trend must be changed.
You may be asking, “What can I do about this?” NAMI Gwinnett provides many opportunities for expressing your concerns about the current state of mental health care within our community. In past years we have been involved in letter writing campaigns to address our representatives, promoting an increase in funding for mental health services. We are currently seeking a Advocacy Committee Chair and Committee members that will commit to communicate with local officials to express concerns about the plight of mental health care in our county and throughout the state and bring information about current legislation to our membership, in addition provide information to be published in our monthly newsletters.
Other examples of advocacy activities within NAMI Gwinnett include Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for local law enforcement officers, the Open Your Mind educational presentation, Family to Family classes, Peer to Peer classes, NAMI Connections (for those with a mental illness) support groups, NAMI Family support groups and the annual fundraising event, NAMIWalks GA. Members are encouraged to participate in these activities held throughout the year.
One of the goals of the Advocacy Committee is to combat stigma by educating the public about mental health. Stigma is a false perception of someone based on misinformation about a condition or state that they experience. For example, people who experience mental illness are often thought of as unintelligent or mentally “slow”. The truth is we are quite the contrary!
The key to advocacy is educating ourselves, and the public, about the true nature of mental illness as a physical condition that can be treated. People with mental illness need and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Their condition needs to be looked upon by the public, as well as the medical profession, the same as any other condition such as diabetes or arthritis. Education is the only way to combat the stigma that remains so pervasive in society today.
We invite you to join us in speaking for yourself as a consumer/survivor or for your loved ones coping with mental illness by becoming an active member. See “meetings & schedules” tab for location
Your voice makes a difference! NAMI provides a training to become a Advocate called SMARTS for Advocacy click the following link to apply (note: it is recommended that you have attended Peer or Family support a minimum of 3 months prior to applying to this training as a member of leadership “must” endorse you)