If you were concerned after reading “More willing to fund criminal justice than mental health,” or “Just the Facts, Ma’am; The Numbers Don’t Lie: Not Servicing the Mentally Ill,” or merely after keeping abreast of cuts in mental health funding across the country (and the globe, really)–and aren’t up for a full-scale anti-Nato-like protest, there are a few ways to get your opinion across without earning yourself a criminal record. Before proceding, check out an interesting interactive map with statistics about mentally ill prisoners by state (although some of the data is as much as 12 years old, some is more current, you can get a general idea from it): “Map the Situation: State by State,” allows you to hover the cursor over your state to find out the percentages of incarcerated mentally ill. It might inspire you to pick up a pen, or click a link.
You might consider one of the following:
- The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) in Illinois asks you to “Contact your state senator and state representative today. Insist that mental health funding should not be cut and should at least be continued at current levels.”
“To generate a message that will automatically be sent to your state representative just click on the link below (or copy and paste it into your web browser: http://capwiz.com/thresholds/utr/1/MKUVRPOMMX/OMMNRPOMVJ/8172623421“
- NAMI Illinois is collecting petitions to end cuts to mental health capacity grants. They ask you to download and circulate the following petition: “JOIN OUR FIGHT TO PREVENT DEVASTATING CUTS TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN ILLINOIS. Return them to NAMI (address at the bottom of each petition).
- “Health & Wellbeing of Inmates with Mental Illness” petition, to be sent to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and IL Governor Pat Quinn, whose goal it is to “express our concerns regarding all forms of civil rights violations perpetrated by the staff of Cook County Jail against its inmate population.”
- “NO to Further Mental Health Cuts in Sacramento“: Asks you to “Sign now to urge Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to reconsider their devastating cuts to community mental health care!”
- ‘”Stop Warehousing The Mentally Ill In U.S. Prisons“: Goals of petition: “Evaluate offenders for mental illness and provide appropriate treatment rather than automatically incarcerating them. Provide mental health services for those currently behind bars before releasing them back into society. Improve public safety by recognizing the symptoms of mental illness.”
- If you have access to linkedin, there’s an entire thread, mainly focused on Chicago’s issue with funding and mentally ill in prison, entitled “Criminal Justice Advocacy for People with Mental Illness.” It keeps readers abreast of petitions and written protests against the situation of the criminalization of the mentally ill, and a lot of it deals with Illinois.
- Florida has a current “Petition to make Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Matter in Florida,” protesting cuts in mental health and addiction services by provider Blue Cross Blue Shield.
- “A New Petition to Fund Youth Mental Health Services“–in Missouri.
- “Protect Pennsylvania’s Safety Net:” It reads, in part, “The proposed budget cuts $153.08 million from behavioral health and intellectual disability and autism services – $123.08 million from behavioral health services and $30 million from intellectual disability and autism services. These proposed cuts target the truly needy and hurt individuals whose care has long been the responsibility of the state- dating back to the founding of the Commonwealth. . .”
- “The Governor of LA: Stop the $34 million cuts to the public hospital system“: Part of the petition reads: “STOP the [LA Governor] Jindal Administration from cutting $34 million from the LSU public hospital system. If the proposed cuts go through, uninsured Louisiana residents and those who rely on Medicaid will lose their only option to access public behavioral health services. The mental health community will be hit especially hard, as we lose $15 million from the Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans.”
- “Support the Mental Health Needs of Texas Children:” Asks you sign the petition to “stand with us in the call to action for all Texans to make a conscious decision about the future of our state; putting our children first and adopting a no-tolerance approach to ignoring the pressing mental health needs of our children and youth.”
- A petition to Governor Quinn of IL over his planned 2012 budget cuts, “No Quinn Cuts!” “Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says his top priority is creating jobs, but his budget plan would wipe out thousands of good jobs in communities across the state. Gov. Quinn wants to eliminate nearly 3,000 middle class jobs by cutting prisons, parole agents and state police that keep us safe, and by reducing mental health and developmental disability services for the most vulnerable among us.”
- For the veterans of Iran and Iraq there is the “PTSD, TBI and other Mental Health Issues Deserve the Attention of a Federal Advisory Committee” petition, asking the president to establish a “committee comprised of qualified professionals and distinguished laymen to advise on the present exigency facing our veterans and nation and personally lead us to end the stigma that has been attached to the psychological consequences of service on the field of battle.”
- An Australian petition, “Premier Ted Baillieu: Fund more mental health nurses.” Concerned about potential cuts to nursing wages, the site states that “Recommendations in the Chief Psychiatrist’s investigation of inpatient deaths 2008-2010 highlighted the critical need for adequate numbers of mental health nurses and an appropriate skill mix. The quality of mental health services in Victoria is influenced by the number of skilled nurses available to care for the community.”
- Australia also (apparently a bit better in this mental health protest arena than we are here in the States,” has a “Better Access to Psychological Services” petition. It’s a bit dated–but all you have to do is click on the link and sign there–it doesn’t take much effort.
Or, if you’re truly enterprising, can turn a phrase with a pen, have the gift of gab, and are willing to pound the pavements–why not write your own petition, protesting what you see as injustice within the mental health system?
Change.org walks you through the steps, from composition of petition, to grass-roots mobilization, to–with a bit of luck and a lot of gumption–systemic change.
You’ll have gotten your point made, and your voice heard–all in a way that won’t contribute to further overcrowding at the beleaguered Cook County jail.