2018 Advocacy Day Recap
Imagine 200 NAMI members and supporters charged up and well informed about important mental health issues, fanning out across the state house to meet with 48 State Representatives or their staff and 18 Senators or their staff. That’s what happened yesterday at the NAMI Mass annual Advocacy Day.
The issues were:
Crisis Intervention Training for Police Officers Across the State – See the fact sheet.
A $94 Million Dollar Increase in the DMH Budget with $84 Million Earmarked for a Major Delivery System Change – See the fact sheet.
The theme of the day was “Let’s Lead on Mental Health”, and there were several state leaders on hand to educate and fire up the NAMI Mass Base. Middlesex County Sherriff Peter Koutoujian talked about plans for a Restoration Center in Middlesex County – a drop off center where police who encounter individuals in the community experiencing a mental health crisis can divert them from jail or the emergency room and provide them with a safe and beneficial environment.
Next on the VIP speaking docket was State Senator Cindy Friedman, who spoke about the importance of crisis intervention training for police officers across the state. Her speech was eloquent and compelling, all the more so because she was responding to the testimony given by Taylor Jordon Pinckney and his mother, Tonisha Pinckney – a NAMI Mass Board Member. Taylor shared with the 200 people assembled that he has schizophrenia and that during his life he has had several encounters with the police, both bad and good. You can read Taylor’s remarkable testimony here.
We next heard from State Representative Denise Garlick who affirmed NAMI’s right to be in the building asking our elected officials to respond to what we need; however, she also challenged each and every person there to take their civic duty to vote and to be active in their communities seriously.
Finally, Executive Director Cheri Andes gave the charge to act. She told a story about how Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech was a result of Mahalia Jackson realizing that his original speech ‘’ Normalcy, Never Again” wasn’t going so well at the March on Washington, so she called out from the stage – “Martin, Tell them about the dream!”. At that point, Martin Luther King moved his prepared remarks to the left, stopped speaking, and began to preach what became known as the “I Have A Dream” Speech. The point Cheri was making by telling this story was that we need each other in order to lead on mental health – peers need family members, and family members need peers. She concluded with a rousing call for NAMI Mass members and friends to make THEIR dreams reality by taking to the halls of the state house and meeting with their legislators and their staff.
Lori Krinsky of NAMI Central Middlesex County did a fantastic job of educating all 200 members on the mechanics and art of advocacy, and Sam Botsford, Bishop Neal Boyd and Larry DeAngelo role played so we could get a picture of what a meeting actually looks like.
It was a terrific day all around.