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Click Here to learn about Advocacy from the NAMI National website.

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. We have been involved in a letter writing campaign to address our representatives, promoting an increase in funding for mental health services. We have an Advocacy Committee that is communicating with local officials to express concerns about the plight of mental health care in our county and throughout the state.

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 an 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. Click Here for directions to our meetings, and for the dates and times. Together we can and are making a difference!

Your voice makes a difference! NAMI has made it easy to let your elected representatives hear from you on the issues that matter most to you.  Just Click Here and click on “Visit NAMI’s Legislative Action Center”.

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