Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Political Campaigns and Mental Illness

As the political season is entering full swing, it’s important to keep your ears open to what the candidates are saying. Better yet, if you don’t hear much discussion about mental illness from the candidates, ask.

For many candidates at the national level, the discussion of mental illness is often tied into broad statements about health reform and the need for parity in treatment for mental illnesses. Having statements of support from Barack Obama, John McCain and other prominent national officials is important. This is a much needed step but there are other steps to be taken.

There is more that would-be elected officials can do should they emerge victorious, especially at the state and local level. Most of the laws and policies affecting treatment for people with severe mental illnesses occur at the state and local level.

There is also much advocates can do this election year to ensure issues affecting treatment for mental illness receive attention. Attending candidate forums and asking questions can make a big difference. Candidates for state assembly seats, mayors, county and city councils, and sheriff will all be in positions of affecting policy for people with mental illness. Ask the tough questions about why is it so difficult for someone with a severe mental illness to get into treatment. Speak out on behalf of your families and the families like yours who are having difficulty getting treatment for a loved one.

There is a good chance that many candidates for local and state office will be unfamiliar with the complexities of these issues. They may not have a good answer for you right away. Tell them that it is understandable and offer your help in finding better solutions. Offer the Treatment Advocacy Center as a resource to find those answers.

Asking the right questions before someone gets elected could make a big difference in what that person does once they are in office.

Editor’s Note: As a nonprofit organization, the Treatment Advocacy Center does not oppose or endorse any political candidates.

Labels: , ,