NAMI Smarts for Advocacy Training

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We are offering free NAMI Smarts for Advocacy trainings in January and February of 2023. The NAMI Smarts program provides participants with the knowledge and practice they need to share their story of mental health and recovery in a powerful, moving way to effect legislative change.  

The training sessions will both be held virtually via Zoom. They will be led by Laurie Emerson, Executive Director of NAMI Vermont, and Margie Lemay, Office Manager of NAMI Vermont. Module 1 (Telling Your Story) on January 14, 2023, from 1:00–4:30 p.m. Modules 2 and 3 (Contacting and Meeting Your Policymaker) will take place on February 4, 2023, from 1–4:30 p.m. Separate registration is required for each day of training, and participants may attend one or both sessions. 

Module 1 (Telling Your Story) will teach participants: 

  • Why mental health advocacy is so important 
  • How to tell a compelling personal story that is inspiring and makes an “ask” in 90 seconds
  • How to write and share your own personal story in seven steps 

Modules 2 and 3 (Contacting and Meeting Your Policymaker) will train participants on how to: 

  • Contact your policymaker 
  • Write an effective email 
  • Give an elevator pitch 
  • Make an impactful phone call 
  • Meet with your policymaker 
  • Orchestrate a successful meeting with an elected official 

Our mission is to support, educate, and advocate so that all communities, families, and individuals affected by mental health challenges can build better lives. Stigma discourages individuals from getting help and is a key barrier to winning public support to improve our mental health system of care. This stigma will only be eradicated through consistent, effective outreach and public awareness that spotlights the recovery stories of individuals who have lived experience with mental illness. We believe that advocacy for a better system of mental health care is more effective when individuals living with mental illness, family members, and healthcare providers work together. 

NAMI Vermont encourages providers, government agencies, and legislative representatives to listen to the voices of family members and peers when considering funding decisions related to services that support peers and families living with mental health conditions in Vermont. “Join other advocates as we prepare for the new legislative session to share our real-life mental health experiences with our elected officials,” said Laurie Emerson, Executive Director of NAMI Vermont. “We will highlight the best practices that have made a difference in the lives of individuals and families seeking help and give suggestions on how to improve the gaps in the system. The NAMI Smarts training will help you to share your story for our virtual Mental Health Advocacy Day on January 30, 2023, through the story-sharing event and through testimony with legislators. Our stories make a difference and have an impact on legislation.” 

To learn more about our advocacy efforts, visit To learn more about the NAMI Smarts program, call (802) 876-7949 x100 or email [email protected]