토요일, 7월 13, 2024
HomeMental HealthMaking advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing

Making advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing


In the event you’re like me, the concept of attending a congressional briefing could also be intimidating and complicated. Initially, I anticipated what you may see on C-SPAN – to stroll into a big assembly room filled with older, influential authorities representatives questioning individuals as they stand in entrance of a microphone. As psychological well being advocates, or future advocates, our voices matter, and attendance at most of these boards is crucial for change. Maybe, such as you, the considered one thing so formal was intimidating.

What I skilled, nonetheless, was far much less stoic. The truth is, it was the precise reverse of what I used to be anticipating. They even offered snacks and refreshments.

Briefing fundamentals

Congressional briefings are like mini informational classes stuffed with individuals from all corners of the nation who share a typical curiosity or concern. The principle purpose is to offer insights into a problem by detailing its prevalence and serving to individuals perceive that change is important for enchancment. As soon as that data is offered, contributors can clarify how and why their proposed answer would profit the higher good.

Lately, Psychological Well being America and our companions organized a congressional briefing to debate the significance of peer assist companies and what’s wanted from Congress to broaden entry. You possibly can take a look at the recording right here. For somebody new to psychological well being advocacy or eager to grow to be extra concerned within the legislative aspect, listed below are discoveries I made which may assist in your journey.

5 takeaways and ideas

1. In the event you’re searching for an answer to a systemic concern, you need to present data on why and the way that concern impacts common residents – and provide options.

On the newest briefing, Psychological Well being America gathered a gaggle of consultants in peer assist companies to debate why new options are important to their work and the way others can get entangled. Among the many panelists, one offered direct peer assist companies in underserved communities; the second acquired these companies as a teen and has since devoted their life to making sure different younger individuals have that very same entry; the third works for a medical insurance supplier that reimburses peer assist specialists, growing entry for a lot of of us in want; and the fourth panelist shared her expertise with institutionalization and professionals who claimed her prognosis would stop her from residing an on a regular basis life. All 4 consultants offered in-depth data and residing proof that peer assist companies are efficient and must be bodily and financially accessible nationwide. The data they shared proved to attendees how helpful peer assist companies have been to the lives of these they serve and confirmed how simple it could be to implement extra peer companies throughout the nation. As a corporation led by the voices of lived expertise, these real-life accounts gave insights into the difficulty. By then offering an answer and tips about how that answer will be molded and utilized on a bigger scale, policymakers are left with tangible mechanisms to work with.

2. Help from a number of teams and organizations is crucial.

In the event you plan on asking for something from Congress, and even your native or state legislator, you had higher have ample assist from a number of sources. With 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth experiencing a psychological well being situation in any given 12 months, psychological well being will have an effect on all people both instantly or not directly sooner or later of their lives. Having this information makes the case that psychological well being care is a bipartisan concern, which has resulted in overwhelming assist from either side. That assist is useful when these asks are taken to Congress. Along with bipartisan assist, Psychological Well being America used this chance to collect like-minded companions and collaborators to tell the briefing. Growing the breadth and depth of the data, together with the varied our bodies of illustration, strengthened our asks.

3. “Depart-behinds” present crucial data and summaries.

Congressional briefings have a tendency to offer a lot data inside a brief interval, so it’s affordable to imagine a few of that data could also be glossed over or not retained. Staffers, liaisons, and others in attendance could have to relay what they heard to a Congressperson or different workers, and also you need to ensure that they hit the important data. The aim of a leave-behind doc, or one-pager, is to make sure your viewers understands the message and might reference it as soon as the briefing ends. On this specific briefing, we had six asks that included data on completely different acts, invoice proposals and calls to motion, all combined in with impactful tales of lived experiences from our panelists. Offering attendees with a brief, concise abstract of the focal factors ensures these with the ability and motivation to take motion have the proper data to take action.

4. Invite the suitable audio system, organizations, and different attendees.

In case you are internet hosting a briefing, or advocacy occasion, getting the phrase out to key people and organizations will go an extended option to strengthen your message and enhance the possibilities of asks being put into laws. With psychological well being being a priority for everybody, no matter their political affiliation or demographic profile, it stands to cause that the majority of us would need to see circumstances enhance. At this briefing session, the invite record included over 70 organizations who needed to be taught extra about or shared our ardour for peer assist companies. We additionally invited consultants to share their lived expertise: Tiara Springer-Love, a psychological well being advocate from New York; Lauren Foster, a behavioral well being program supervisor at Blue Cross Blue Protect, Minnesota; Vesper Moore, a psychological well being advocate at Kiva Facilities; and Dana Foglesong of the Nationwide Affiliation of Peer Companies. By having panel consultants from varied corners of the psychological well being world, we might focus on the a number of limitations to implementation and potential options to bettering entry. The big range of attendees improved our possibilities of spreading that data all through teams and organizations to garner much more assist. That is essential for objectives like growing funding for analysis and advocating for grants and assist for group organizations that present peer assist companies.

5. Congressional briefings are an ideal place to community and meet of us with comparable agendas.

In case you are attending a congressional briefing, it’s in all probability as a result of you might have a vested curiosity in the subject material – together with the opposite attendees. Widespread pursuits make it the proper alternative to fulfill face-to-face with different individuals who share your ardour and might focus on options. A enterprise card is a should if you happen to plan to broaden your skilled contact record. Moreover, introducing your self to panelists after the session is at all times a good suggestion. In any case, these audio system are consultants of their area and have expertise in your space of curiosity.

Finally, my scary notion of congressional briefings at Capitol Hill was shattered, and I’ll attend extra ought to I get the prospect. I arrived feeling anxious and misplaced however left feeling supported and rejuvenated in being part of the answer. I additionally realized rather a lot regardless of being well-versed within the topics. It helped to listen to accounts of lived experiences and understand that others care about and need to enhance psychological well being in our nation. Plus, the snacks they offered had been wonderful. In the event you get the prospect to attend a congressional, and even state authorities, briefing, take it.

Watch recording of congressional briefing

Makalynn Powell is the Peer and Youth Coverage Fellow at Psychological Well being America.

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