Personal experience with mental illness and navigating the mental health system makes family members and people with mental illness uniquely qualified to both educate elected officials on issues of importance and advocate for the policies and funding necessary to provide services that are essential to people with mental illness.

NAMI Main Line PA sends electronic Advocacy Alerts in support of legislation and policy to benefit individuals with mental illness and their families. Recent Advocacy Alerts are shown in the first section below.

County level advisory boards such as Community Support Programs (CSP) provide another opportunity for advocacy. Information about the Montgomery County CSP and additional advocacy opportunities is given in the final section of this webpage.

If you would like to receive our Advocacy Alerts or participate in other advocacy, please contact Kristine Songster.  Click here to find your local, state, and national legislators.

Advocacy Alerts

NAMI Main Line PA sends electronic Advocacy Alerts in support of legislation and policy to benefit individuals with mental illness and their families. If you would like to receive these Advocacy Alerts or participate in other advocacy, please contact Kristine Songster. Recent Advocacy Alerts are shown below.

NAMI Applauds Wins for Mental Health in Year-end Legislation (December 2022)
(see https://nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2022/NAMI-Applauds-Congressional-Focus-on-Mental-Health-in-Year-End-Legislation

In December, congressional leadership released a $1.7 trillion spending package that includes significant investments to expand mental health care and policy changes that will help improve the lives of people affected by mental health conditions. NAMI applauds the omnibus legislation, which will fund the federal government through the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year (FY 23).  Highlights include:

  • Improving crisis care: Providing $501.6 million for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline,  supporting the 988 network to increase capacity as demand continues to grow.
  • Extending telehealth flexibilities: Extending telehealth provisions in Medicare through the end of 2024, including delaying the in-person requirement to receive tele-mental health and allowing audio-only telehealth.
  • Expanding the mental health workforce: Adding marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors as covered providers in Medicare starting in 2024.
  • Improving care for justice-involved youth: Requiring states to provide screening, diagnostic care and case management services for justice-involved youth eligible for Medicaid or CHIP 30 days prior to their release from incarceration starting in 2025.

The legislation also reauthorizes key Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs through 2027.

For FY 23, Congress made key investments in several important mental health programs, including:

  • $2.34 billion for the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)
  • $1.01 billion for the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) The MHBG helps state and local governments address gaps and needs in their communities, including requiring states to spend at least 5% of their block grant funds for mental health crisis services.
  • $360 million for Section 811 housing
  • $13.9 billion for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $700 million from FY 22.

For more information about how the legislation impacts mental health, go to https://tinyurl.com/49h4ksw7.

Additional Advocacy Opportunities

Community Support Program (CSP) operate in every county and regionally. Montgomery County’s Community Support Program (CSP) brings together individuals that receive mental health services, their family members, providers and the Department of Behavioral Health in an equal partnership to promote recovery and excellence in the delivery of community-based mental health services.  The committee strives to include a balance of people who use services, people who provide services, family members, and interested members of the community at large.  The CSP initiatives continue to grow state, regionally and county wide. As the involvement increases CSP has become a place that feedback can truly be given to the county from individuals that receive services and information can be given that suits the needs and requests of those that attend.

Currently, Montgomery County CSP meetings are virtual, 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., 3rd Thursday of each month We invite all peers, family members and providers/professionals to attend. Please contact Penny Johnson, pjohnson@hopeworxinc.org,  to be added to the invite list for the next meeting, or to receive a copy of the most recent newsletter.

CSP Subcommittees:

  • Advocacy Subcommittee—Works on legislative, policy, communication, budget, voter education and other issues related to mental health services in the county, statewide and at the federal level when relevant. At the direction of the CSP Committee, the Advocacy Subcommittee gathers information on issues, plans advocacy events and creates a monthly newsletter to provide information to the stakeholder network as well as the community at large about the work of CSP. The newsletter also provides updates on new and changing mental health services provided in Montgomery County.
  • Social/Media Subcommittee—Works on facilitating opportunities for people in the CSP community to be more involved in the Montgomery County community. This includes implementing the Community Connections grants, which provide funding for people to participate in a variety of activities. The committee also implements transportation grants that provide gas cards and SEPTA day passes to CSP community members. The annual CSP Poster Art contest is also organized by this committee.
  • Conference Sub-committee – The conference subcommittee will plan and fundraise for the annual Montgomery County CSP Conference.
  • Newsletter Subcommittee—The newsletter subcommittee works to provide information to the public about CSP and mental health advocacy. The newsletter subcommittee is committed CSP recovery principles which is person centered and empowered by stakeholders. Our goal is to provide information through varies media avenue and to create a quality newsletter that includes but is not limited to, legislative advocacy, events, services, personal recovery stories and creative writing such as poems. Please feel free to submit articles and stories to enrich our newsletter. Send to the editor: kathiemitchell8221@gmail.com.

The OMHSAS Mental Health Planning Council provides counsel and guidance to Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) OMHSAS in order to ensure an infrastructure and a full array of mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral health services which comply with the mission, vision, and guiding principles of OMHSAS, as well as core principles of the Community Support Program (CSP), Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP), Cultural Competency, and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP). The advisory structure ensures that:

  1. Individuals who have received services, family members, and other stakeholders have the opportunity for meaningful, effective participation in advising OMHSAS.
  2. 2. Information is shared broadly and in a timely manner from stakeholders to OMHSAS and from OMHSAS to stakeholders.
  3. Valuable networking opportunities are available among stakeholders.
  4. There are productive partnerships between OMHSAS and the Planning Council.

The OMHSAS Mental Health Planning Council is comprised of three committees and one subcommittee: Children’s Behavioral Health Committee, Adult Behavioral Health Committee, Older Adult Behavioral Health Committee, and Persons in Recovery Subcommittee. These committees will advise on a broad behavioral mandate to include, but not be limited to, mental health, substance abuse, behavioral health disorders, and cross-system disability.

Meetings are attended by appointed members, state and county staff and elected officials, and are open to the public. Register for the June meeting (virtual) at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3807770801464117006

C/FST Surveys – offer consumers and family members the opportunity to provide feedback on satisfaction, quality of life and service issues to state and county staff and officials, managed care organizations and providers.

Family Empowerment Satisfaction Team (FEST) is currently surveying young people and their parent/caregivers on Youth Acute Inpatient Programs, and will be surveying on Mobile Crisis later in the year. FEST researchers are also interviewing parent/caregivers and teen on their experiences during the COVID-19 Emergency. To receive a copy of FEST’s recent newsletter, which includes recent interviews, survey results, and information about FEST’s upcoming scope of work, please contact Kathy Laws at klaws@mhphope.org.

Last updated in December, 2022.