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MONTPELIER, VERMONT—Hundreds of Vermonters will rally together at the State House for Mental Health Advocacy Day on Tuesday, January 31st from 8 a.m.-noon to call on Vermont leaders and legislators to protect and strengthen our state’s mental health care system by “Caring for Vermonters – Investing in Mental Health”.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont (NAMI Vermont), Vermont Care Partners and the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR) have organized the event over the last two years bringing together 44 organizations and other stakeholders invested in Vermont’s mental health system of care.
The agenda includes a welcoming address from state leaders, opportunities for the public to interact with legislators, advocacy training, and shared stories from individuals with lived experience who are affected by mental illness.
“Mental health care must be a priority in Vermont,” says Laurie Emerson, NAMI Vermont’s executive director. “The governor, state legislators and other officials need to protect and strengthen mental health care. While health care costs continue to rise, the need for mental health care has also increased. It is important now more than ever to invest in proven, cost-effective, community-based treatment and services that promote recovery.”
In Vermont approximately 125,000 people are affected by mental illness – that’s 1 in 5 individuals. Nearly 1 in 20 adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Most people living with mental illness lead fulfilling, productive lives, but only with access to treatment and community care.” Like health care, mental health effects all of us, in fact, at some point in their life, half of Vermonters will experience a mental health condition.
“We must celebrate the work of the folks in our mental health care system, even as we acknowledge that they are mostly overworked and underpaid. Their efforts contribute immeasurably to wellness here in Vermont. This is also our opportunity to hear success stories from people in mental health recovery and to reach out to legislators to tell our stories.” says Peter Mallary, VP of Government Relations and Community Outreach for VAMHAR.
“All Vermonters should have full access to quality mental health services in parity with other health care, because when Vermonters thrive our communities and economy are strengthened” says Julie Tessler, co-director of Vermont Care Partners, which represents 16 designated and specialized service agencies providing developmental, mental health and substance use disorder services.
Funding for and access to mental health services is more important now than ever. State leaders and legislators must take action on mental health care policies to improve the system of care and ensure increased funding to ensure access and availability of services and providers.
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The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont is a grassroots organization that supports, educates and advocates so that all communities, families, and individuals affected by mental illness or mental health challenges can build better lives.
The Vermont Association for Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a statewide information and advocacy organization that supports all paths to recovery from addiction and mental health conditions.
Vermont Care Partners is an organization representing 16 non-profit community-based agencies that provide developmental, mental health and substance abuse services to Vermonters.