On October 18, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Advocates, lawmakers see momentum for mental-health reform in Congress” by Lena H. Sun.
While this piece acknowledges that current House and Senate mental health bills are seen as controversial, it includes some troubling quotes that will lead the public to believe that there is consensus in the mental health advocacy community that these bills should be the basis for legislation.
Please inform the Washington Post that their staff should ask people with psychiatric histories and mental health diagnoses what they think of the “reforms” contained in these bills. We cannot allow advocates who support eroding our civil liberties and privacy rights to speak on our behalf. We have a voice. Let’s use it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
2) Write a letter to the editor of the Washington Post.
Newspapers keep track of “pro” and “con” letters, even if not all can be published.
Talking points you can use (feel free to use your own):
- The false link between gun violence and mental health is not a basis for legislation. Rep. Murphy’s bill in the House is based on this false connection, and the Senate version follows his lead.
- Reform is needed, but the statement by Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America, that advocates are united in the belief that these bills should be the basis of such reform, is erroneous.
- The author did not consult people with mental health problems, who would be most affected by any proposed reforms.
- Like the House bill, the Senate bill is hardly an “overhaul” of the mental health system. It puts zero Medicaid dollars into community mental health services, while directing potentially billions of Medicaid dollars to psychiatric hospitals.
- REAL reform would recognize the huge prevalence of trauma among people with mental health and substance use problems, and would seek to reduce re-traumatization in service settings.
Tips for writing letters to the editor:
- Keep your letter under 200 words, or even shorter to increase its chances of being published.
- Send your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Send your letter as soon as possible to improve chances of publication.
- The full guidelines for submission are here.
3) Tweet to the author Lena Sun @bylenasun and let her know she needs to speak to the people who would be most directly affected by this legislation.
.@bylenasun There is NOT total consensus in the MH community on the current MH bills, despite what “advocates” say. #realmhchange
.@bylenasun Ppl w/#mentalhealth disabilities can speak for themselves. The advocacy orgs you quoted DON’T represent us. #realmhchange
.@bylenasun Ppl w/#mentalhealth disabilities oppose both House & Senate bills. Wish someone would talk to us! #realmhchange