ACMH believes that what is most important is that families have the opportunity for their voice to be heard whether it is regarding treatment for their child, or as an advocate to improve mental health services, systems or policies.
Why ACMH Believes Your Voice is So Important:
Family Voices are key when talking about issues surrounding children’s mental health or when trying to improve systems because:
- Children live in families, so only family members truly know if a service or support is effective and whether or not it will work in their home.
- Families have navigated systems so they can share whether procedures or policies were helpful or difficult to navigate.
- Families put a face on the issue.
- Policy makers and others need to know that issues surrounding children’s mental health affect real people in their community.
- Professionals and policymakers are not experts on all subjects and need to hear from youth and families in order to create real systems change.
- Parents need to hear the voices of other families so they can learn from other’s experience, have hope, & know they are not alone!
ACMH works to create opportunities for the voices of families to be heard, as well as, provides information, resources and leadership opportunities for parents and youth so they feel comfortable and confident when advocating for themselves, their family, or to improve services and supports for all families.
If you are interested in getting involved in ACMH advocacy activities, learning leadership skills or having opportunities to share your experience, please explore the opportunities in this section of our website or contact us today!
Current Opportunities for Family Advocacy
In today’s climate there is much opportunity and need for family advocacy including current opportunities in our state to share your voice of experience including seats on the ACMH Statewide Parent Advisory Committee and by participating in upcoming MDHHS listening sessions. Detailed information about these opportunities and more are listed below:
ACMH Statewide Parent Advisory Committee Opportunity
The Association for Children’s Mental Health (ACMH) is currently accepting applications for it’s Statewide Parent Advisory Committee. Application for a seat on the ACMH Parent Advisory Committee is open to all parents/primary caregivers with experience raising a child with a mental health, emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Involvement is NOT limited to parents with experience in any particular system, such as public mental health, foster care, juvenile justice or special education. All parents/primary caregivers who are passionate about mental health issues and have personal experience raising a child with mental health challenges will be considered.
To learn more see additional information below or download the application or ACMH Parent Advisory Committee Overview Documents below:
Up to 15 parents will be selected to serve on the committee. Once selected, members will be asked to serve for a minimum of one year. Committee calls will be held once monthly via technology. Face to face meetings and events will be scheduled 2 to 4 times a year. Members will be expected to attend and fully participate in committee calls, meetings and events; if unable to attend a call, meeting or event, the ACMH Parent Advisory Committee Coordinator should be notified in advance if possible. Meetings may be photographed, videotaped or recorded.
Committee Purpose and Objectives:
The purpose of the ACMH Parent Advisory Committee is to provide the opportunity for parents/primary caregivers of children with mental health challenges to have a voice in decision making that affects their lives and some of the services and supports available to their families. The committee members and other decision makers will work together to create positive changes in policies that impact children, giving them the opportunity to advise legislators, mental health administrators and community members about important issues that matter to families navigating children’s mental health services. The committee will have the following objectives:
- Advising ACMH and other state leaders about the experiences and interests of families raising children with mental health challenges;
- Promoting family voice in decisions impacting Michigan families regarding behavioral health;
- Providing opportunities for parents to develop leadership skills, maintaining both a personal perspective as well as working toward positive statewide system change;
- Fostering and supporting partnerships and relationships between parents and system partners throughout the state.
Each ACMH Parent Advisory Committee member will play an essential role in raising awareness and integrating family perspective into Michigan policies and legislation. All committee members will be asked to:
- Commit to serving on the committee for a minimum of 1 year;
- Represent the voice of local families raising children with mental health challenges by discussing issues that are important in their communities;
- Possess and demonstrate a strong desire to advocate for positive systems change for families raising children with mental health challenges;
- Attend and fully participate in monthly calls as well as scheduled meetings and events 2 to 4 times a year. If unable to attend a call, meeting or event they must contact the ACMH Parent Advisory Committee Coordinator in advance whenever possible;
- Work closely and collaboratively with fellow parent committee members and system partners;
- Provide feedback to ACMH Parent Advisory Committee Coordinator regularly with recommendations regarding children’s mental health related issues and committee activities.
Criteria for Participation:
- Be a resident of the state of Michigan;
- Have had personal experience or are currently raising a child/children with a mental health and behavioral challenges;
- Possess the passion and desire to advocate for positive systems change for children’s mental health;
- Have the ability to work in collaboration with fellow committee members. This includes:
- respectfully conveying their thoughts and opinions;
- listening to and integrating opinions of others;
- providing supportive feedback to others in a respectful way;
- conducting themselves in a professional and collaborative manner,
- and demonstrating an openness and willingness to create positive impact from a statewide perspective.
Benefits for Participation:
- Gain leadership and advocacy skills.
- Have your voice heard by system partners and decision makers as you represent families raising children with mental health challenges.
- Connect with other parents and learn from their experiences
- Inform and influence processes, ranging from local to statewide impact.
- Create positive changes for Michigan families navigating children’s mental health systems.
- And more!!
How to Get Involved:
Interested parents/primary caregivers who meet criteria for participation will follow the required steps to submit an application. By doing so, parents/primary caregivers agree to fulfill the roles and responsibilities as described.
As part of their application process, applicants will be asked to provide at least one reference.
If you have questions, please contact:
Laura Marshall, ACMH Parent Advisory Committee Coordinator Phone: 517-420-2193
MDHHS Statewide Listening Session Opportunities
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) held Statewide Listening Sessions across Michigan in 2020 to outline their vision about the future of behavioral health in our state, answer questions, and listen to feedback from family members, youth and persons served. To learn more about their vision visit their website by clicking here. As we learn more about how they plan to utilize what they learned and next steps we will share it here.
Interested in sharing your voice with legislators at the state and federal level? Below are some resources to help you:
Click here for a link to all members of the 117th Congress and a profile of each. It is important to note that when you open the link you will want to scroll down the left side of the page and click on 117. This will give you present members. Please note that on this page you have the option to sign up for alerts for Congressional members. This is a great way to stay informed about the activities of your representatives and to track the activities of Congressional members outside of your district who are sponsoring legislation that impacts children’s behavioral health.
Click here for a link for state legislators. Through this link you can find state legislators and pull up the legislative activity that is occurring in our state.
The National Council for Behavioral Health released a New Advocacy Handbook in February of 2021 which can be downloaded here: Advocacy Handbook 2021. The Handbook has been updated with tips and tricks for virtual meetings with legislators, as well as templates for scheduling meetings and sending follow-up emails.