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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How To Become A Local Advocate

What is advocacy?

The dictionary defines advocacy as “the act of supporting a cause or expressing a viewpoint.” An advocate is a person who argues for a cause; a supporter or defender of one’s rights; a person that pleads in another’s behalf; one that distributes information intended to influence individual behavior or opinions, conduct or public policy.

One of DBSA’s core missions is advocating to ensure that good public policies and laws are enacted on behalf of people living with depression and bipolar disorder at both the state and federal level.

And the most effective way to do that is through individuals just like YOU!
DBSA would like you to help us make a difference by becoming an advocate.
And once you become active, you’ll also discover how easy it is to be an advocate.

Often during the year, we ask our constituents to make their voices heard by supporting or opposing legislation and/or policy affecting the mental health community.
How can you become and advocate?

1. Go to the DBSA website and click on the link that says Advocacy.
2. Visit DBSA’s Advocacy Center to learn more about becoming an advocate.
3. Next visit DBSA’s Legislative Action Center (LAC).
4. Research the listed issues about mental health.
5. Find the legislators in your area.
6. Find legislator contact info including biographical data
7. Research their voting records on mental health issues.
8. And most importantly, contact your legislators by using a sample letter, provided on the site, or by composing your own personal message. It’s easy and it’s quick. And the Legislative Action Center’s Capwiz service will take you through it step-by-step.
9. Sign up for DBSA’s Advocacy e-Newsletter. The e-Newsletter is distributed when DBSA needs to support or oppose an important piece of legislation.
10. Get a bi-monthly update on how your legislators are voting on mental health issues by signing up for “Mega-Vote,” a tool from the United States Congress to help track the voting record of your government leaders.
11. Alert DBSA about mental health issues in your state Legislature or community. Send an e-mail to and we will provide whatever support and information we can to assist you if you wish to advocate in your state or local community.
12. In the near future, DBSA will be expanding its state advocacy support services so now is the time to act!

It may be hard to believe that real change still comes about through individuals, especially on the government level. But know that elected officials are in their positions because you put them there and officials will listen if enough people give them the information they need to make informed decisions.

Remember, knowledge is power. By making sure that your local, state and federal elected officials are informed about mental health, you will make a difference for yourself AND millions of others!

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