Date(s) - 05/18/2023
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Thank you to everyone who joined us as we work mobilize Awareness into Action to improve mental health services, supports, systems and policy in our state to better support the needs of children and youth with mental health challenges and their families. Information and resources from the event and tips and tools you can use to take action along with opportunities to get involved will be posted here throughout the month of May so be sure to check back soon and frequently!
Tools For Taking Action to Create Change in Youth Mental Health
“If you come together with a mission and it’s grounded with love and a sense of community,
you can make the impossible, possible” John Lewis
Each spring ACMH hosts a special event to raise awareness about children’s mental health and current needs and issues of Michigan children, youth and young adults with mental health challenges and their families. If silver linings exist in the aftermath of the pandemic or the current youth mental health crisis it’s that awareness about the importance of youth mental and the number of children, youth and young adults struggling with it is at an all-time high. Certainly something to celebrate but Awareness is just the first step. As accessing mental health services and supports or having the resources to provide help for all who need it remains a major challenge. So this year we switched gears and our focus from Awareness to Action. We were thrilled and honored to be joined by 75+ families, youth, local and statewide partners and policymakers ready and willing help mobilize this collective raised awareness, renewed sense of urgency, focus, and commitment to seek and implement solutions, strategies and policies to create change and better support the needs of Michigan children and youth with mental health challenges and their families. With the hopes of moving closer to ACMH’s ultimate goal that All Michigan children, youth and young adults with mental health challenges and their families live in a safe, welcoming communities with access to needed services and supports.
TableTopic Session Materials
TableTopic: Eli’s Project: A Community Call to Action
TableTopic: Inclusion of Youth and Family Voice Within MDHHS
TableTopic: Supporting Children’s Mental Health Needs in School, Michigan Alliance for Families
TableTopic: Breaking Down Silos: Collaborating for Youth Justice Reform in Michigan
TableTopic: Association for Children’s Mental Health in Action
TableTopic: Partnering with Statewide Youth and Parent Advisory Committees
Creating Legislative Change/ Partnering to Create Legislative Change
Why Should I Get Involved with Legislative Advocacy?
- Your voice can make a difference and perhaps even change policy!
- Legislators want to hear about the issues that affect their constituents.
- They need our knowledge and are not experts on every subject.
- To build a relationship so you can go to them when you need their help.
Examples of opportunities for youth and families to get involved in legislative advocacy:
- Testifying at Legislative Hearings
- Responding to Calls for Action from ACMH or other community organizations
- Communicating with legislators and policy-makers about current issues and how they affect your family and others
- Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month Activities
- Local Legislative Activities
- Visiting your State Representatives and Senators in Lansing
There are many ways to communicate with legislators including:
- Writing Letters
- Making Phone Calls
- Personal Visit in Lansing or to their local office
- Testifying before a committee
- Attending a legislator’s coffee hour
- Inviting policy-makers to an event that you host
Tips for effectively communicating with Legislators- click here.
Tips for Making the Most of Legislative Office Visits
Before the visit:
- Prepare! Plan!
- Decide the best time to go. Time your visit so they have enough time to consider the information you share before they need to act. The best days to meet with Legislators in their Lansing offices are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
- Make an appointment.
- You will need a picture ID if you are visiting the House Office Building.
- Figure out where you are going ahead of time. Information about legislator’s offices including room and phone numbers can be found online at: michigan.gov
- Learn a little about your legislator before your visit. You can also find a bio about each representative and senator on Michigan.gov. Do your homework- learn about their interests and background before you go. Then you can try to make a connection to between your issue and something they care about.
- Be prepared- Know your issue and prepare your message before you go. Planning your message ahead of time with key points you want to share can be very helpful.
- Think about leaving something with the legislator that will remind them of you and your message.
During the Visit
- Be prompt and patient! You may have to wait.
- Focus on 1 main issue. What is it you want them to know
- After you share your message, listen, ask if they have questions and what their thoughts are on the issue.
- Be responsive to their concerns and priorities.
- Say I don’t know when you don’t know the answers to their questions.
- Be sure to tell your legislator if you are their constituent.
- Explain how this legislation or policy may affect children youth with mental health challenges and their families and also if you can why this issue is important to all Michigan citizen’s.
- Let them know why you care about this issue and why they should too!
- Give examples or better yet share relevant real-life stories.
- Focus on the needs of kids with mental health challenges and their families, what works and what doesn’t and common barriers families face.
- Try to share examples of why access to particular support or service is important.
- Provide facts to support your point.
- Identify the issue or bill by name or number if you know it.
- Suggest a solution if you have one.
- Tell them what you would like them to do or how they can help.
- Offer to be a resource, Ask for a response, and follow up!
After the Visit:
- Send a thank you card or e-mail and thank them for their time and attention to your issue- this is a great place to briefly remind them of your message!
- Keep in touch periodically, share relevant information from time to time Keep in mind that the most effective way to have your message heard is to get involved and build relationships with those you are trying to share your message with. Mark Twain said it best: When you need a friend, it’s too late to make one.”
- Invite them to presentations, open houses, and other events in your community.
Partner Legislative Advocacy Toolkits and Resources:
- National Council for Mental Wellbeing Advocacy Handbook
- Act B4Stage4 Advocacy Toolkit – Mental Health America
- Advocacy Toolkit | Children’s Alliance | Columbus, Ohio (ohiochildrensalliance.org)
- Advocate for Change | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Step by Step Guide – Family Voices
- Policy, Advocacy, and Communications Toolkit – Alliance for Strong Families
- Child Advocacy Tips | Colorado Children’s Campaign
- The Legislative Process in Plain English – The Family Cafe
- Top 10 Tips – Georgia Voices
- Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy – Advocate Guide
- Intro to Advocacy – Kansas Action for Children
- Early Childhood Advocacy Toolkit – Right from the Start
- Voices For Virginia’s Children – Advocacy Guide
- 5 Tips for Meeting with Your Legislator
- Advocacy 101: Tips for Legislative Advocates – Learn tried and true tips on how to be a good legislative advocate.
- Top 10 Tips for Talking to Lawmakers – From Voices for Georgia’s Children
- The Legislative Process – Make Your Voice Heard and learn how to testify at a legislative public hearing. CT-N
- Preparing to Testify – Make Your Voice Heard and learn how to testify at a legislative public hearing. CT-N
- How to Testify – Make Your Voice Heard and learn how to testify at a legislative public hearing. CT-N
- Tips for Testifying – Make Your Voice Heard and learn how to testify at a legislative public hearing. CT-N
- S. Congress
- Find Your Current Legislator
- Find Your State Medical Director
- Find Your State Mental Health Commissioner
- Remember to find and follow your legislators on social media. Almost all of them have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Find those at Who Represents Me?
Additional Topics Coming Soon:
- Creating or Informing Change in Behavioral Health Policy, Services, Systems
- Creating Change Through Participation on Decision Making Committees and Advisory Groups – Coming Soon
- Creating Change Utilizing Parent/Professional Partnerships to Create Change – Coming Soon
- Putting Family-Driven Youth-Guided into Action to Improve Mental Health Services and Systems – Coming Soon
- Using Your Voice of Experience To Create Change
- Grass Roots Organizing Tips
Awareness to Action Event Program Highlights
ACMH was thrilled to have Representative Noah Arbit share opening remarks to kick off this year’s event!
Representative Arbit currently serves as the Majority Vice Chair of the Health Policy Subcommittee on Behavioral Health; the Families, Children, and Seniors Committee and more. He like most of us is committed to addressing Michigan’s mental health crisis and has made it one of his first-term priorities.
Representative Arbit’s bio shares that he felt called to pursue a career of advocacy and service early on and we look forward to hearing what led him to take action to create change in his community and later in our state as well as his interest in helping to create or shape policy to improve mental health services & systems.
We feel very fortunate to have Representative Arbit join us and our program and look forward to him sharing his expertise, along with his passionate, forward-thinking, relentless leadership that he already brings to his service on behalf of his constituents of the 20th District.
Program & TableTopic Sessions
Our overall goal for this year’s event was to support participants to take action by identifying steps they can take right now to create or affect change in children’s mental health. A portion of our agenda included a a series of TableTopic Discussion Sessions where participants had the opportunity to select a topic of interest and take part in a small group discussion to lean more about opportunities to create change in a particular area. A variety of topics were available and each discussion included information about opportunities to create change including:
- How might you get started?
- Key opportunities (times, places, people) to affect change
- Who might you partner with?
- And Tips for Success
Facilitators also shared their personal passion and experiences creating change, lessons learned and more. Participants also had the opportunity to ask questions, brainstorm ideas, plan their individual actions steps or get started connecting or partnering with others in their efforts.
Thank you to all of our TableTopic Session Facilitators for sharing their time and expertise!
Bookings are closed for this event.