In close coordination with State and National NAMIs, our local affiliate is very active in lobbying in behalf of people with mental illness.
Wishing to create a Ridges Cemeteries Directory
which would help family members and other interested parties
locate the burial places of individual currently buried under
simple numbered gravestones, the Ridges Cemeteries Committee
and NAMI (in a monthly meeting he attended) persuaded State Representative
Jimmy Stewart to draft a bill allowing the disclosure of the
identity of all individuals buried in mental hospital cemeteries.
Stewart shepherded the bill through the house (with the help
of testimony of NAMI members and others) and, having passed Senate,
it became law in 2005. At NAMI's request, Stewart also introduced
a "Medicaid Buy-In Bill" which, if enacted, will allow recovering
mentally ill folks to work without losing all benefits.
Athens was very active in the campaign for the local mental health
levy which voters approved in 2001 and 2007. When there was a state budgetary
threat to the local psychiatric hospital, Athens NAMI made sure
there as a large turnout at ABH when the head of ODMH came to
Athens to check things out . We, and other affiliates throughout
the state, have helped turn out people for huge mental health
rallies at the State House. And we were part of effective letter
writing/emailing/phone campaigns. A recent success was the campaign
to get insurance parity for people with mental illness. A seemingly
hopeless cause as recently as 2003, parity was written into law
in 2006 - and ODMH Director Michael Hogan attributed that victory
to massive NAMI lobbying. Following that triumph, NAMI immediately
began lobbying for the preservation of physician/patient choice
in medication and for increased funding for recovery services.