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Mental Health Policy
Mental Health America takes a unique approach to policy. MHA believes policy should ask people what they need to live the lives they want, and support them in getting there. Recovery is founded on the principle that people can take on meaningful roles in the community in spite of mental health challenges, when they receive the support they need. MHA's goal is recovery for all. There is nothing more important than allowing each individual, and those they care about, the chance to live the life they want with meaningful roles in the community.
In the history of treatment of people with mental health problems, our system has done a poor job at protecting people. The story of the Mental Health Bell is a reminder that we cannot return to a system where people are shackled, mistreated, and otherwise forgotten. Since 1909, MHA has fought to improve the system for individuals who struggle with mental health problems.
Unfortunately, the fight is not over. MHA and our affiliates continue to fight to ensure access to treatment; improve quality of treatment; reduce homelessness, incarceration, and discrimination; and ultimately move our system towards a better mode-- one where people are treated with dignity and early intervention and prevention of mental health problems is prioritized.
What We Fight For
As part of our cohesive effort, MHA staff, Board Members, and Committee Members have researched, written, reviewed, and approved position statements that cover a large number of policy issues that we care about. The members of our Board and Committees are consumers, family members, advocates, lawyers, scientists, practitioners, and political leaders who bring their vision and expertise to support these efforts. Each Position Statement provides an overview of where we stand on each issue, a background of the issue, and a call to action that lists specific changes we want to see. These Position Statements provide a foundation by which we fight for a better system.
Our Position Statements cover five main topic areas below. Click on the following links to learn more:
- System Transformation
- Rights and Privacy
- Treatment and Access
- Children's Mental Health
- Criminal Justice and Mental Health
What We're Doing Now
MHA works to move forward these ideas through activities that include federal and state legislative and regulatory reform, building public understanding of the issues, weighing in on key court cases, and collaboration with other advocates and coalitions to improve our system.
MHA collaborates with leaders in the mental health and policy fields to design policy recommendations that promote: prevention for all; early identification for those at risk; integrated care and treatment for those who need it; and recovery as the goal. To learn more about our legislative priorities, go to our Legislative Priorities page.
To learn about some of the bills introduced in the 114th Congress and where they fall in line with Mental Health America's legislative priorities, check out our Current Mental Health Legislation page.
MHA's Regional Policy Council (RPC) works with seven of our most knowledgeable affiliate public policy or executive directors across 7 regions in the country. To learn more about the RPC and to access information from past meetings, visit our Regional Policy Council Page.
The relationship between states and the federal government can be confusing, particularly for advocacy work. To learn what distinguishes the states from the federal government in terms of mental health, read our introduction to The Federal and State Role in Mental Health.
Each year, MHA gathers and provides up-to-date information about disparities faced by individuals with mental health problems as a tool for creating change. Read The State of Mental Health in America to learn more about the data on mental health prevalence and treatment throughout the United States that informs our policy work.
Our Webinars are a great source of information on areas that matter to MHA presented by MHA staff, affiliates, and other leaders and innovators in the field of mental health services and policy.
We are always interested to learn more about what others are doing and how they want to get involved with us to improve our system. Please feel free to reach out to any of our staff to get involved.