Focus on Advocacy

By Mark Creekmore
New Opportunities for Mental Health Advocacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled us all, and it has also created four new advocacy opportunities to make a difference for mental health.

Mental Health Matters (MHM), NAMI Washtenaw County’s advocacy program, has divided into four subgroups, and we need your help.

These four subgroups will channel our advocacy efforts for

1. Criminal justice systems, specifically, the engagements with our community as outlined by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, especially the diversion of people with mental health conditions.
2. Affordable and supported housing, specifically, the upcoming Ann Arbor Millage and the devastating effects of housing insecurity on mental health.
3. Candidate selection in November, specifically, a survey of all candidates for the November election and the need to inform candidates and voters about mental health issues.
4. Education systems, specifically, the ongoing stress on parents, children, and educators resulting from the social and economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

Each of these four MHM subgroups is identifying goals and activities to achieve by December 2020. After the elections in November, we can reset our priorities for 2021, because we should have better information then about the pandemic and our local, state, and national leadership.

Are you interested in joining and working with us in these four subgroups? Here’s how:

1. Complete the advocacy group member form on the NAMI WC website (https://namiwc.org/volunteer/advocacy-group-member/#more-4667). You will be contacted by Patricia Doyle. If you are new to NAMI, she will explain who we are.
2. Then contact Mark Creekmore (pmcreek@gmail.com), to register for the next MHM orientation. Orientations are held the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month from 5 PM to 5:30 PM.

Tell Your Story About Your Experiences with Housing and Mental Health for the Upcoming Ann Arbor City Millage

NAMI-WC will hold two training sessions to help people tell their stories about their experiences with housing and mental health. We want to use these stories to help the campaign for the Ann Arbor City Millage for affordable and supported housing.

Here’s the deal.

1. The sessions will be remote and you can participate by phone or video link, so you will be safe.
2. You don’t have to live in Ann Arbor to have important experiences about how housing affects mental health.
3. Once you develop your story, you decide whether you want us to use it to help pass the millage. Even if you are against the millage, your experiences about housing are important to hear. We will never use your story without your explicit approval each time. Our sole commitment is to you.
4. Prepare to have fun. It will take about an hour, and our trained volunteers will be available to help you finish the stories after the session is done.
5. You will receive a certificate of appreciation and completion from NAMI WC and a written copy of your story.

Call (734-408-1277) or email Mark Creekmore (pmcreek@gmail.com) to inquire about these training sessions and to register for the next session.

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