I began to make a call to various leaders for field-wide coordination this May during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Andrew Frawley here with The Good Life Movement. I want to share an update about our last month, a moment of progress, and where we are headed.
November was a month of firsts for us. We had the opportunity to share our message with many new audiences. It was a lot of preparation, but I’m proud.
One of my favorite ‘firsts’ was the NAMI-NYS conference in Albany, New York.
NAMI is a national alliance for families and people with Serious Mental Illness. They do advocacy, support, and much more, and their New York chapter is one of the largest in the nation.
For this event, I signed GLM up for a table. I found myself nervous about the event. Even though I’ve done years of work, I still suffer from Imposter Syndrome, and this was the first time I’d be publicly presenting GLM.
Despite my woes, the event was tremendous. You can find a photo of me repping The Good Life below (in the highest of spirits by this point!)
I met incredible youth who told their personal stories of triumph. I met Pam Solomon who teaches a family support program after her partner has fought his own battle. I met Rina Riba from Delaware County who has spent decades fighting for people with all types of disabilities. I met Deputy Chief James Gerace of the Colonie Police Department which is training all of their officers to be providers of help, not handcuffs.
I also met Jase who inspired me beyond words. In his 20s, Jase had a battle with a serious mental illness. Jase was supported by his incredible parents and received treatment. After doing the hard work, Jase, today, is an inventor, speaker, animator, and living proof that mental health treatments work.
Another one of my favorite ‘firsts’ was speaking on a panel about mental health at the University of Pennsylvania.
This event was hosted by several student groups who work in policy, peer counseling, and healthcare. I was joined by Lewis Bossing, Senior Attorney at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and Molly Candon, Ph.D., and professor at the university.
This event pushed me to develop the GLM messaging to be dynamic. I’ve had probably 1000 meetings, a handful of podcasts, and presentations, but rapid fire on a panel is a lot to prepare for - but an essential aspect of success.
The event was a huge success and a confidence builder. We spent half the panel on Medicaid financing policy and I kept up. GLM does it's homework.
The last ‘first’ was a pair of summits I attended that were private events that included much of the mental health field.
One, hosted by Inseparable, got together many top advocates to discuss a roadmap for mental health advocacy. The other was the Sozosei Decriminalizing Mental Illness Summit. Both phenomenal.
The summits were attended by executives from The Kennedy Forum, American Psychiatric Assc., American Psychological Assc., NAMI, Mental Health America, MTV, JED, The Steve Fund, The Trevor Project and so many more.
At the same time, we were joined by Mayors, city commissioners, health officials, judges, diversion officers, artists, and leaders from other movements to help guide us.
While I’ve been in touch with many of these folks before these events, being in the room altogether was a humbling experience.
Simply being invited is evidence of how seriously people are taking our nascent movement, and for that, I credit all of you for believing in us, me, and our ideas.
At these events, I began to make a call to various leaders for field-wide coordination this May during Mental Health Awareness Month. Specifically, my pitch is that this year we should adjust the message to not just be “Mental Health Awareness,” but “Mental Health Political Awareness.” It’s an emphasis on action and changing the systems.
As I often say, “we’ve told our stories, we’ve established this cause is important, and now it’s time that we fight like hell.”
It’s an incredibly humble beginning, but the idea was well received. Here is a piece of an email I received from a top executive.
If you can imagine 100+ organizations and corporations in unison for the entire month of May calling for mental health political action … that is a titanic shift in America with unmatched potential for good.
And that is exactly why we do this work. Our strategy has always been a hyper-focus on the few channels for high-leverage results.
With GLM, we’re building a movement because it’s the missing piece. But our goal is to end the crisis and raise the tide of the mental health field broadly. Our goal is not to be in charge or get credit for an idea. Sometimes it's just sharing ideas that we can all latch onto.
And all of this is possible because you all believed, supported, and helped get GLM in that room.
But, we have so much to do. We still have to make "Mental Health Political Awareness Month" a real thing before we can celebrate.
I am happy to say, after the events in November, I feel confident and ready to turn on the jets. It's time to make it all real.
The next phase of The Good Life Movement is a podcast tour in January, February, and March. One of the main causes I’m going to be advocating for is Mental Health Political Awareness Month. My plan is to speak it into existence.
The seed begins here.
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I look forward to spending the next Mental Health “Political” Awareness month with you all.