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NAMI Illinois. Don’t Get Anxious! Get Active! March 2015 From our friends at the Supportive Housing Providers Association Let’s talk...

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Presentation on theme: "NAMI Illinois. Don’t Get Anxious! Get Active! March 2015 From our friends at the Supportive Housing Providers Association Let’s talk..."— Presentation transcript:

1 NAMI Illinois

2 Don’t Get Anxious! Get Active! March 2015 From our friends at the Supportive Housing Providers Association Let’s talk...

3 Let’s start with a little background…. Cuts to Illinois’ mental health budget have been devastating. Mental health treatment saves lives. And, mental health treatment saves money! Illinois’ budget woes are real. It provides stability and healthier people / healthier communities.

4 But the State has very serious money problems! The Legislature is working on a short-term solution. TODAY, they voted to “sweep” all existing “special funds” (funds used for special purposes) and make small cuts (2.5%) in some services to close the spending gap for this year’s costs. This fiscal year, stretching to June 30 th, has a shortfall of $1.6 Billion The solution will take care of this year, but what about next year? Too much expense Not enough income Expenses Income Most mental health services will not be affected by this year’s shortfall. There’s not enough money to pay for everything.

5 The budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 is not good! And runs until… Next year’s budget starts in… Next year, the Governor says we will be short money by over $6 billion. June 30, 2016 July 1, 2015 28 human service programs are proposed to be cut - for example: supportive housing, mental health care coordination (-54%) and special project grants (-46%). and 22 human service programs proposed to be eliminated (including Integrated healthcare, individuals placement services, non-Medicaid services.)! Community mental health services are devastated! His solution?

6 First, here’s the impact of this proposal Cutting an already stressed mental health budget leads to: A responsible and honest budget must include new revenues! Loss of or reduction in service for literally thousands of people Increased homelessness and non-compliance with class action lawsuits * Loss of supportive housing where as many as 10,300 extremely low-income and disabled residents Increased use of expensive emergency room services, increased admissions to hospitals, state funded nursing homes, jails - Our job is to help them understand that proposed cuts are a bad deal for them and for us. Mental health supports / services must become a state priority!

7 This is not good! But….. Don’t Get Anxious Active !!! Get There are a bunch of things we can do…. We can talk to our Legislators about the budget. We can write letters.We can get creative about our advocacy. We can work together to advocate.

8 Talking to Your Legislator – Get Active! Remember – All Politics Are Local To the degree that Legislators will be interested in our issue, they will be chiefly concerned with local implications. So… Organize your thoughts – and your message – as they relate to you, your family and your community. Tell your story effectively! Tell your story often!

9 Prepare Your Story! Get Active! Legislators are busy, give them a chapter of your book that leaves them wanting more! Legislators want to know what you want them to do. Make sure your story concludes with the action you want them to take. Mental health programs are cost effective programs that improve lives. Sustain them. Tell your story quickly and effectively. Stories put a real face on policy issues and influence the opinions Of public officials Build your relationships! Meetings build support for our issues. Be credible; take fact sheets with you! You don’t have to remember facts, but they can emphasize your points!

10 Find Your Legislator. Get Active! If you need to locate your Legislator’s office in your home District, go to, click “OK” and enter your home address. Click to find your Legislator’s office. NOTE!! Your Legislator will be at home during March 28 th thru April 11 th. This is the best time to reach them! Make an appointment at his/her office or, better yet, invite your Legislator to meet with your local affiliate! There’s comfort (and power) in numbers. Think through what motivates your Legislator: partisan politics / fear / power Be prepared to respond to opposition!

11 Organize & Position Your Team. Get Active! Consider who on your team will make the most effective messengers. If your team includes multiple individuals, organize your parts in advance. Who is making introductions? Who is taking the lead? Who is best positioned to discuss the needs of individuals and families living with mental illness in your community. Multiple contacts are effective; some affiliates may make determinations to limit your outreach team to a maximum of three individuals – do not overwhelm the lawmaker / others may want full impact of numbers!

12 Your Meeting With Your Lawmaker. Get Active! Introduce Yourself & Our Message Tell your story – BRIEFLY! Introduce yourself and your NAMI affiliate. Briefly explain NAMI’s mission of – education / advocacy / support and the number of folks involved in your affiliate. Explain the statewide context: we’re working together, statewide, to preserve, protect and ensure community mental health systems and supports in communities throughout Illinois. If the lawmaker wishes to manage the conversation, allow the lawmaker to manage the conversation.

13 Tell Your Story. Get Active! For Example: My name is ______. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. I am a registered voter living at the _____ organization. I am here today to {ASK}. Please include full funding for mental health services and supports in the FY 2016 budget. This funding helps me/our family and others living with mental illnesses to live in the community, to have access to medical and psychiatric services and supports and to avoid expensive alternatives like nursing homes, emergency rooms and jails. Examples from your story: * Link to specific services when possible, i.e. supportive housing, individual placement and support (supported employment), integrated health care, access to medications, etc. ASK: Please include full funding for mental health services in the new state budget. Thank you!

14 Share Briefing Materials. Ask Your Lawmaker for Support! Share advocacy materials from the NAMI Illinois web site: If you don’t have answers to any questions your legislator may have, politely say you’ll check for further information and be back in touch with additional information! And DO follow-up! Ask the lawmaker whether he or she will support continued, adequate funding for mental health? Make note of his/her response. Thank the lawmaker for his/her time, and tell him/her that you look forward to following up over the course of the spring legislative session.

15 Evaluate Your Outreach Was your outreach successful? Is there any outstanding follow-up that needs to be done? Do your lawmakers more clearly understand the value of providing community mental health services? Do they understand the impact that those services have on individuals, families and communities? Do they understand the urgency of providing adequate funds for a comprehensive array of services and supports that keep people healthy and living in the community? Did the lawmakers appear positive and appreciative of your issues? And, most importantly, are the lawmakers prepared to support our priority for full funding in the spring session?

16 If you want to get creative… You can write a letter, note or e-mail to your Legislator. You can make a short video, using a phone camera; consider putting it on your affiliate’s website, Facebook and other social media outlets. You can attend a Legislative Hearing and, perhaps, volunteer to testify. There’s a Hearing coming up on April 1 st in Chicago. It’s the House Human Services Appropriations Hearing at the Bilandic Building on 160 N. LaSalle St. Rm. C-600 at 10:30 AM. You can write a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper.

17 And now, That’s the end of the presentation. This information and more, will be available April 1 st on line at, then click on ADVOCACY. Let’s Talk! What questions do you have?

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