POLICY & ADVOCACY
NAMI Tennessee shapes the public policy landscape for people with mental illness and their families and provides grassroots volunteer leaders with the tools, resources and skills necessary to save mental health in all states.
Advocacy is “the act of speaking, writing or acting in support of something or someone.” “Speaking out” doesn’t have to mean giving a speech — it can also mean writing a letter, sending an email, participating in a meeting, or showing up to a rally. There are many ways to make our voices heard!
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Everyone who experiences mental illness deserves the right mental health services and supports at the right time. With those key supports in place, recovery is possible. To make that happen, we have to let elected officials, the media and the general public know what’s needed.
Public policy makes a difference in the lives of both the people living with mental health conditions and the people in their lives. Changes in policy can mean better outcomes. Our advocacy efforts have led to many victories including:
- Securing better funding for research.
- Protecting access to treatments and services.
- Attaining mental health parity to ensure that mental illness is treated equally to physical illness in most insurance plans.
But we still have work to do, and we need your help. Learn about mental health advocacy. Talk to your neighbors, friends and family about why these issues are important. Find out how you can get involved with your local NAMI’s advocacy efforts.
NAMI Tennessee Legislative Priorities
- Expansion of IPS: Employment for Persons with Mental Illness
- Passage of a Death Penalty Exclusion for Persons with Serious Mental Illness
- Prevention Non-Medical Switching: Mid-Year Health Plan Changes to Prescription Availability and Pricing
- Awareness and Correction of Statewide Psychiatric Bed Shortage & Lack of State Hospital Available Beds
- Funding for NAMI Homefront
- Public Education about Mental Health Parity and Changes to Parity Compliance Oversight
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Diversion of Mentally Ill to Treatment
- Correction Officer Training
- CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) De-escalation Training for Police Officers
Public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), Vision of Hope Gala, NAMI Radio, NAMIWalks and other efforts, successfully combat stigma and encourage understanding. NAMI works with reporters on a daily basis to make sure our country understands how important mental health is.
NAMI Tennessee works with other state and national organizations to further mutual objectives in legislative action and public education.
Starting in 2015, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) and NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, have worked together to increase mental health awareness in the African American community. AKA Chapters work with NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates to educate African Americans about mental health, treatment and recovery. Together, we can help communities access much needed treatment services and support.
HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) – Future Health Professionals and the National Alliance on Mental Illness have a partnership which focuses on engaging youth around mental illness. HOSA and NAMI are working together to expand mental health education & awareness and to support activities that help improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Local HOSA chapters and NAMI affiliates plan activities that include fundraising, community service projects and volunteer hours. 225,000 HOSA members across the country will receive information on mental health issues and, at the same time, raise awareness in 4,500 HOSA chapters, while providing an avenue for students to take action and make a difference through a NAMI walk or another fundraising effort.
The Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations (TAMHO) is a statewide trade association representing Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) and other non-profit corporations that provide behavioral health services. These organizations have historically met the needs of mentally ill and chemically dependent citizens of Tennessee from all age groups and socioeconomic levels.
Tennessee Alliance for the Severe Mental Illness Exclusion (TASMIE)
TASMIE supports excluding people with severe mental illness from the death penalty. This exclusion should be determined on a case-by-case basis and will affect only those with the most severe mental illnesses. These individuals would be eligible for other sentences, including life without parole.
Tennessee Coalition for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
A partnership of 29 mental health advocacy organizations across Tennessee ensuring mental health and alcohol and drug treatment and support services are accessible to all individuals, regardless of age, and maintained at a funding level that assures quality care to those in need.
Tennessee Co-Occuring Disorders Collaborative
The Tennessee Co‐Occurring Disorders Collaborative strives to create a common understanding of the impact and treatment of co‐occurring disorders in our communities and to share knowledge about the conditions and available resources, reduce stigma, and accurately direct people to timely and effective prevention, treatment, and support.
Mental health parity means mental illness and substance use conditions must, by law, receive the same insurance coverage as physical illness.*
So if your plan offers unlimited doctor visits for a chronic condition like diabetes, then it must also offer unlimited visits for a mental health condition such as PTSD or anxiety. Without Mental Health Parity, you are not getting the full range of benefits to which you are entitled.
The Tennessee Parity Project is a coalition to promote state-wide public education on mental health parity. TPP engages in grassroots awareness and compliance education, as well as supporting legislative education and action on the issue. All interested organizations are welcome to join.
*if your insurance plan offers behavioral health coverage
TN Patient Stability Coalition aims to put an end to the unfair insurance practice known as “non-medical switching.” Non-medical switching occurs when insurers reduce coverage of medications after the consumer has already signed on to the original plan terms. These mid-year benefit changes are fundamentally unfair to all consumers. Furthermore, mid-year coverage changes are actually unsafe, as price increases often force patients off of their originally prescribed treatment.