NAMI Advocacy Group, Broward County
Champion Mental Health Legislator, Representative Michael Gottlieb, supports NAMI Broward’s advocacy for effective behavioral health crisis services and diversion programs to reduce the number of people with mental illness in the jails.
NAMI Broward County has three pillars: Education, Outreach, and Advocacy. The NAMI Broward Advocacy Group leads the advocacy efforts. Referred to as the NAG, these dedicated advocates meet with local and state policymakers and also participate in national mental health issues, following the lead of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They kindly but persistently nag to improve the lives of those with mental illness and their families.
Their legislative priorities currently include supportive housing, insurance parity for mental health, early access to mental health treatment to improve outcomes, avoidance of jail into appropriate quality treatment, better care within jail including access to most effective medications and the abolition of solitary confinement, adequate funding and access to community mental health services, community awareness of mental health needs and services, and improvements in the Baker and Marchman Acts.
The NAGs work collaboratively with community partners such as the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, Mental Health Courts, Broward Behavioral Health Coalition (Broward’s Mental Health/Substance Use Managing Entity), community mental health providers, Baker-Act receiving facilities, housing authorities and affordable housing developers, and the Broward County Commission.
The NAMI Broward Advocacy Group is represented in and advocates with the Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition.
To join the Broward County NAMI Advocacy Group, e-mail Gayle Giese: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is an overview of advocacy, lobbying, and how to start the process of advocating for mental health!
Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition – Improving the lives of those with mental illness and their families
Mission: To develop a grassroots advocacy network throughout Florida to improve the lives of those with mental illness and their families
The Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition (FMHAC) began as a group of peers and family members from Broward and Palm Beach Counties (FMHAC) who had attended a NAMI Smarts for Advocacy training and then responded to an invitation from NAMI Palm Beach County to begin to build a network of advocacy groups throughout Florida. The advocacy project, as it was then known, was funded by Allegany Franciscan Ministries for one year, and staffed by a part-time attorney in the NAMI Palm Beach County office. During the first eight months of the project, the initial group met multiple times, learning about the mental health delivery system in Florida; the issues that were most affecting our members; and Florida’s legislative process and mental health policy makers.
After the first eight months, the initial group divided into two separate groups, each with new leaders from their respective counties, The Broward group adopted the name “NAMI Advocacy Group” or NAGs, and included a member from their local Mental Health America affiliate, MHA of Southeast Florida. The Palm Beach group also combined with their local MHA affiliate to create the Palm Beach Mental Health Advocacy Group. Soon, the two original groups were joined by a combined NAMI/MHA group in Jacksonville called the Greater Jacksonville Mental Health Coalition and a NAMI Hernando & Hillsborough group.
The grant was extended for a second final year, and other advocacy groups joined from NAMI Greater Orlando, NAMI Pinellas, NAMI Sarasota, NAMI Pensacola, NAMI/MHA Ft. Walton/Okaloosa, and NAMI Miami-Dade. Three new groups emerged: NAMI Tallahassee, NAMI Collier, NAMI Hendry/Lee Counties. NAMI Hernando and Hillsborough became two separate groups. As of June 2020, FMHAC includes 15 advoacy groups from around the state.
During its second year, the Coalition added two more staff: a part-time NAMI Smarts for Advocacy trainer and a part-time lobbyist. Four coalition members attended a NAMI Smarts for Advocacy “Train the Trainer” workshop.
The Coalition has, since its beginning, functioned under the auspices of NAMI Florida which has appointed a Board member to serve as a liaison. In addition, both NAMI National and MHA National have approved the collaboration of both entities to form the Coalition. Although the group is currently made up of NAMI and MHA affiliates, the Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition welcomes other mental health advocates with a shared mission to strengthen our ability to improve the lives of those with mental illness and their families.