Getting Vocal at Mental Health Day on the Hill

The Mental Health Legislative Network’s annual Day on the Hill drew over 500 people to the Capitol on March 14 to urge legislators to pass important legislation to expand school-linked mental health services, invest in more supports for children and adults and ensure that insurance parity for mental health care is met.

Mental health advocates from around the state participated in the day getting updated on the status of these critical issues, visiting legislators and holding a vocal rally in the Capitol Rotunda.

“Today is not the time to be silent. Today is our day to get loud,” shouted state mental health advisory council member Rozenia Fuller as she implored advocates to raise their voices.

“We are going to make sure we are heard,” said NAMI’s executive director Sue Abderholden. “We need mental health parity enforced now, not next year or in two years. This bill needs to be passed now!”

Legislative speakers included Rep. Dave Baker who cited the critical need for enforcing mental health parity and Sen. Julie Rosen a long-time legislative voice for expanding mental health services. Also speaking on the need to build the mental health system were Senators Rich Draheim, Matt Klein, Carla Nelson and Michelle Benson along with Representatives Jim Davnie, Ruth Richardson and Hodan Hasson.

Other speakers included family member Elaine Love, Jenna Erickson and Governess Simpson who shared their personal stories. NAMI’s executive director Sue Abderholden and MH Minnesota’s executive director Shannah Mulvihill addressed the crowd as co-chairs of the MHLN, and mental health providers Steven Loos and Richard Wolleat also spoke.

After the Rally advocates visited their legislators asking for increased investments in community-based programs that serve children and adults (such as school-linked mental health, children’s residential services, first episode psychosis programs, and early childhood services), along with funding for affordable and supportive housing, employment, workforce expansion and suicide prevention.

Mental Health Day on the Hill is sponsored by the Mental Health Legislative Network, a coalition of over 40 mental health organizations dedicated to improving mental health care in Minnesota.