Prepare
Call
Talk
Wrap Up
  • Prepare

    • Calling is the most effective, simple, and fast way to get your official’s attention.
    • Remember to call during business hours, and be polite and professional.
    • Occasionally you may speak directly to your Representative or Senator.
    • Usually you will talk with a legislative assistant (LA) or another member of their office staff.
    • Your call is very important and makes a difference no matter who you speak with!
  • Call

    • Dial the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
    • Follow the directions to connect to your Representative or Senator’s office.
    • Once you reach their office, say that you are a constituent and you would like to speak to someone about mental health reform like their “health legislative assistant.”
  • Talk

    Once you get connected, start talking. The goal is to express the importance of mental health reform in a succinct, calm, and personal manner. You can follow the guide below.

    • Hi, my name is ____, and I’m a constituent of your official living in ____.
    • I’m also a ____ (nurse at a local hospital, parent of a child with ADHD, student entering a mental health profession, etc.)
    • I want to let you know how important mental health is to me and to many other members of my community. As you know, mental illness affects 1-in-5 people in this country, and it is a primary cause of poor physical health outcomes, unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and premature death.
    • At this point, consider sharing a short personal story or connection that shows why this issue matters to you. “On a personal level, ____.”
    • With major healthcare reform back on the legislative agenda, I want to make sure that a few important parts of the Affordable Care Act are either spared repeal or replaced with viable alternatives. These include:
      • The mental health parity extensions to the individual and small group markets,
      • The inclusion of mental health and substance abuse treatment as an Essential Health Benefit that individual and small group plans must offer, and
      • The Medicaid expansion which provides mental health coverage for the uninsured, severely mentally ill, and impoverished.
    • Taken together, these provisions are estimated to extend mental health parity to an additional 62 million Americans and provide insurance coverage to many millions who could not afford it otherwise.
    • I want my representative to build on these provisions of the ACA and continue to expand coverage for and timely access to mental health and addiction services in any new reform bill.
    • Will your office support keeping these ACA protections and push for further advancements for people with mental illness in any new reform bill?
  • Wrap Up

    • The person may then promise to pass on your concerns or read a prepared response.
    • Thank the individual for their time and consideration.
    • Leave your email or phone number so they can contact you with updates.
    • Send a quick email to MentalHealthReform@med.unc.edu to let us know how it went.
    • Thank you so much for helping to save mental health reform!

You can also advocate for pending mental health legislation by visiting any of these sites.