During Hill Day 2015, Linda Rosenberg, President of the National Council for Behavioral Health, reminded us that, “Change depends on our action.” Ten years ago, National Council’s first Hill Day took place with just 35 people. This past week, with ten partner organizations, hundreds of people were in attendance to hear and share real-life stories on how mental health affects the lives of many.
One of the most prominent voices on Capitol Hill was Demi Lovato who shared her personal experience with bipolar disorder and her road to recovery. As a well-known celebrity, she is using her fame as a platform to gain awareness and speak up for those who feel unable to do so. Another voice present was Dr. Oz, who was a part of the congressional briefing on prescription drug abuse. Although many opioids are prescribed with the intention of pain relief, forty people die on a daily basis from an overdose on these prescriptions. In addition, 90% of people suffering from drug abuse go without care. These are just a few reasons as to why the conversation about mental health needs to spread wide and far.
As awareness of mental health increases, the organizations that treat these individuals are experiencing rising demand. With rapid growth, it can become difficult to ensure that the focus remains on serving clients in need. After all, running an organization requires a lot of time, work, and effort, but it’s always important to remember why your organization exists- to provide high quality care to your clients. By spreading awareness and education, and embracing advancements in technology, it’s becoming easier for organizations to put the primary focus on their clients.
Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the combination of strong advocates and events such as Hill Day and Mental Health Awareness Week are paving the way for change and creating a better understanding of mental illness. Overall, the two days on Capitol Hill were full of emotion, excitement, knowledge, and inspiration. Mental health is a continuing issue that requires more attention and awareness. Now is the time to fight the stigma of mental health and provide those in need with the right information and resources to overcome mental illnesses. “Change depends on our action” and now is the time to make that change.