Minnesota’s mental health needs will take center stage at Mental Health Day on the Hill Thursday, March 9. Led by National Alliance for the Mentally ill (NAMI) Minnesota and Mental Health Minnesota. Several hundred advocates from around the state are expected to attend, hear speakers and then meet with the legislators to discuss key issues.
It’s the first in-person day for Minnesota’s mental health advocates since 2020, and organizers are planning for a big turnout.
Buses from Grand Rapids, Duluth, St Cloud, Winona and Rochester will bring rally attendees to the capitol, but people can also drive or take transit in the Twin Cities.
A welcome and policy briefing will be held at 9:30 a.m., at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, just northwest of the capitol on University Avenue. Participants will hear an overview of current mental health policy and funding issues involving the Mental Health Legislative Network.
Then all will head to the capitol rotunda for an 11 a.m. rally, to hear from legislators and advocates.
The event will be livestreamed so that people who cannot attend in person can stay involved. NAMI Minnesota has an active Facebook page and often livestreams events there.
Those who do attend in person can meet with legislators after the rally, or during the entire week of March 6-10. The event organizers can help advocates with finding their state lawmakers, talking points and other information. Training can be provided on-demand.
Register for the event at bit.ly/3KDwI8d
Network members are working together to combine many issues into more than a dozen mental health-focused bills. They are also supporting a wide range of bills brought forward by other disability advocates.
The Mental Health Legislative Network is made up of more than 40 organizations working together to improve the state’s mental health system. The network also works with local mental health advisory councils throughout the state.
The 2023 legislative session has already been a very active time for the network. One important issue is the mental health workers’ shortage, and the need for a more diverse workforce. Reducing the barriers to help people become licensed is a major focus.
Other measures affect children and teens, in educational and medical settings. Another education focus is to establish lead mental health positions in the state’s Department of Education.
Public safety is another issue with several areas to consider. So is legalization of cannabis, which is expected to happen this session.
Learn about Mental Health Minnesota’s advocacy issues at https://mentalhealthmn.org/public-policy/
The NAMI Minnesota legislative agenda, which is 14 pages long, is at https://namimn.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2022/12/2023-Legislative-Goals-Final.pdf
Sign up for legislative updates at https://namimn.org/advocacy-and-laws/legislative-updates/
Advocates should check to see if their organizations of choice are also having rallies and days at the capitol this session. Tuesday, March 7 is the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing’s Lobby Day 2023. It starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts all day. Learn more at http://mn.gov/deaf-commission/news/index.jsp?id=1063-560459
PACER Center is having a day at the capitol Thursday, March 23. Parents of and students with disabilities are invited to attend training and meet with their legislators.
The event link is at https://www.pacer.org/events/day-at-the-capitol.asp Register by March 16 in order to a have meeting with a legislator scheduled.
Editor Jane McClure compiled the March legislative coverage.