National Alliance on Mental Illness
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How To "Vote Mental Health"

NAMI members often ask, "How do I 'vote mental health'?  What questions should I ask?   How do I know where a candidate stands on issues that affect people who live with mental illness?"  Try our tips to raise questions, get answers and make informed choices.

1. Know our issues.  Understanding issues that affect children and adults who live with mental illness is an important first step to "voting mental health." Read NAMI's State Action Agenda ( for a concise summary of issues that make a difference.

2. Ask questions.  The best way to elicit thoughtful and candid answers from
 candidates is to ask unbiased, open-ended questions.  Try NAMI's Candidate Questions below (also available at  

3. Stay informed.  Check candidate Web sites for positions on relevant issues,
 such as housing and funding of public services.  Listen to speeches. Track
 local and internet forums for opportunities to hear candidates and ask questions.

4. Educate candidates.  An excellent way to learn about candidates is by providing
 them with NAMI's "Candidate Kit" and offering to serve as a resource on mental
 health issues.  Let your state NAMI office know of your plans.  

5. Be prepared.  Anytime a pollster, political party, or campaign calls or knocks on       your door, emphasize your concern for mental health care issues.  

6. Spread the word.   Your family, friends, and co-workers care about what you
 have to say.  Let them know that you will "vote mental health." 

7. Write a letter.  Candidates pay close attention to letters to the editor and
 comments on newspaper blogs because they reflect the pulse of voters. 

8. Volunteer.  NAMI members can volunteer as individuals (independent of NAMI affiliation) to work on campaigns, if they wish.  People who donate time are
 valued—and so are their opinions. 

9. Wear your issue.  Wear a "Mental Health Care Gets My Vote!" sticker on your
 shirt, bag or car.  This will grab the attention of candidates—and raise public
 awareness.  Download artwork from and order through
 a local or national printer.

10. Vote.  One of the most important ways you can make a difference is to exercise
 your right to vote.  To register, visit