Programs at Work: Regional Policy Council
With this issue, we inaugurate a new feature that will highlight work of Mental Health America's programs. Our first profile is of the Regional Policy Council.
The Regional Policy Council (RPC) was established in 2009 to work with the affiliate field to strengthen state advocacy and implement federal and state policies that positively affect the lives of children, youth and families with mental health and substance use conditions. Nine affiliate leaders serve as the RPC Representatives and cover the same regions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Sarah Steverman, Director of State Policy at the national office, works with the representatives to build a strong and proactive advocacy network.
"The RPC has become a key advocacy vehicle that is strengthening work around the country by sharing promising programs and policies and the strategies that can bring about positive change," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.
The RPC began its work by completing policy resource maps of their respective regions that include the mental health policy landscape, affiliate strengths, state legislative priorities, advocacy training needs, policy and advocacy resources, and partnership opportunities. These efforts forged relationships that will improve advocacy efforts and communication.
Resources and webinars on topics of importance to the affiliates, including health care reform and access to medications, have also been presented. The RPC plans to continue these webinars to inform affiliates on important issues emerging at the state level and those being discussed at the federal level that might impact states.
The RPC plans to further establish its relationships in the regions by helping affiliates form new state mental health caucuses and by providing technical assistance to existing state mental health caucuses, including the dissemination of information on the role of states in health reform implementation and the role behavioral health plays in health reform. Technical assistance to already established mental health caucuses will better equip the legislators to lead their states in the implementation of federal health reform and mental health parity for mental health consumers. ::