Thursday, September 9Advocacy and Public Policy
As the Nation's Voice on Mental Illness, NAMI places the highest priority on public policy advocacy. Today, attendees had the unique opportunity to hear from, as well as speak with, leaders in Congress who are working on legislation that affects the lives of pople living with mental illness.
The day began with a Legislative Plenary session, where Senator Pete Dominici of New Mexico spoke to attendees about insurance parity legislation now pending before Congress that would require health plans to provide the same coverage for mental illnesses as for all other illnesses.
Afterwards, attendees boarded buses for Capitol Hill where they visited the offices of their Sentors and Representatives to advocate for parity and other issues.
Meanwhile, the Breakout conference continued, with sessions focusing on mental health needs of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
In the afternoon, the Opening Plenary featured a speech by NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick on the road ahead for NAMI, the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award to Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, as well as the presentation of a legislative leadership award to Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, for his legislation to address youth depression and suicide. A highlight for many attendees was a lively open mic discussion on the U.S. Presidential race with George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC News's "This Week", and Bob Boorstin, a former adviser in the Clinton administration.
Other highlights of the day included: networking meetings for FaithNet, StigmaBusters, NAMI-C.A.R.E., Consumer Council and Child and Adolescent advocates; speeches by NAMI Board candidates; and state caucuses. The day was capped off by a NAMI talent show.
View photos of Thursday's activities!