화요일, 4월 16, 2024
HomeMental HealthMaking advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing

Making advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing


In case you’re like me, the thought of attending a congressional briefing could also be intimidating and complicated. Initially, I anticipated what you would possibly see on C-SPAN – to stroll into a big assembly room stuffed with older, influential authorities representatives questioning folks as they stand in entrance of a microphone. As psychological well being advocates, or future advocates, our voices matter, and attendance at a majority 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 supplied snacks and refreshments.

Briefing fundamentals

Congressional briefings are like mini informational classes full of folks from all corners of the nation who share a typical curiosity or concern. The principle aim is to supply insights into a difficulty by detailing its prevalence and serving to folks perceive that change is important for enchancment. As soon as that data is supplied, members 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 providers and what’s wanted from Congress to develop entry. You’ll be able to take a look at the recording right here. For somebody new to psychological well being advocacy or eager to turn out to be extra concerned within the legislative facet, listed here are discoveries I made that may assist in your journey.

5 takeaways and ideas

1. In case you’re searching for an answer to a systemic situation, you should present data on why and the way that situation impacts common residents – and supply options.

On the newest briefing, Psychological Well being America gathered a gaggle of consultants in peer assist providers to debate why new options are very important to their work and the way others can get entangled. Among the many panelists, one supplied direct peer assist providers in underserved communities; the second acquired these providers as a teen and has since devoted their life to making sure different younger folks have that very same entry; the third works for a medical insurance supplier that reimburses peer assist specialists, growing entry for a lot of people in want; and the fourth panelist shared her expertise with institutionalization and professionals who claimed her analysis would forestall her from dwelling an on a regular basis life. All 4 consultants supplied in-depth data and dwelling proof that peer assist providers are efficient and ought to be bodily and financially accessible nationwide. The knowledge they shared proved to attendees how helpful peer assist providers have been to the lives of these they serve and confirmed how straightforward it will be to implement extra peer providers throughout the nation. As a company 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 may be molded and utilized on a bigger scale, policymakers are left with tangible mechanisms to work with.

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

In case 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 immediately or not directly in some unspecified time in the future of their lives. Having this information makes the case that psychological well being care is a bipartisan situation, 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 assemble like-minded companions and collaborators to tell the briefing. Growing the breadth and depth of the data, together with the various our bodies of illustration, strengthened our asks.

3. “Go away-behinds” present crucial data and summaries.

Congressional briefings have a tendency to supply a lot data inside a brief interval, so it’s cheap to imagine a few of that data could also be glossed over or not retained. Staffers, liaisons, and others in attendance could must relay what they heard to a Congressperson or different workers, and also you need to be certain that they hit the very important data. The aim of a leave-behind doc, or one-pager, is to make sure your viewers understands the message and may 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 facility and motivation to take motion have the right data to take action.

4. Invite the fitting 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 a protracted solution to strengthen your message and enhance the probabilities 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 purpose that almost all people would need to see circumstances enhance. At this briefing session, the invite listing included over 70 organizations who needed to be taught extra about or shared our ardour for peer assist providers. 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 Defend, Minnesota; Vesper Moore, a psychological well being advocate at Kiva Facilities; and Dana Foglesong of the Nationwide Affiliation of Peer Providers. By having panel consultants from numerous corners of the psychological well being world, we may focus on the a number of boundaries to implementation and potential options to enhancing entry. The big selection of attendees improved our probabilities 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 neighborhood organizations that present peer assist providers.

5. Congressional briefings are an important place to community and meet people with related agendas.

In case you are attending a congressional briefing, it’s in all probability as a result of you will have a vested curiosity in the subject material – together with the opposite attendees. Frequent pursuits make it the proper alternative to fulfill face-to-face with different individuals who share your ardour and may focus on options. A enterprise card is a should in the event you plan to develop your skilled contact listing. 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 discipline and have expertise in your space of curiosity.

In the end, 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 discovered quite a bit 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 supplied have been wonderful. In case 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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