The Mental Health America (MHA) Regional Policy Council (RPC), established in 2009, is guided by four of MHA’s most knowledgeable public policy and executive affiliate leaders, known as the RPC Representatives. Working alongside MHA staff these policy experts mobilize grassroots and grass tops advocacy, share information, and provide and facilitate mentorship with affiliates about state and federal legislation and initiatives.
Each Representative works closely with a designated cluster of state affiliates, holding monthly calls and keeping them apprised about urgent and emerging advocacy and policy issues, and pending legislation. Some of the most consistent and pressing issues addressed through the RPC include assuring access to non-discriminatory coverage that includes integrated care and that emphasizes prevention and earliest intervention, especially for young people. Also foremost for the RPC is increasing access without undo barriers to care and treatment that people want and that meets their needs.
The RPC works to promote knowledge about and the use of peers at all levels of care and support. The RPC continues its on-going focus on eliminating and reducing harm. This includes advocacy to reduce suicide, including building out local 988 systems, and furthering suicide prevention through education and awareness and increasing safety in the home. RPC’s harm reduction activities also include the promotion of deflecting people with mental health and substance use needs away from involvement with the criminal justice system.
Informing all the work of the RPC is the goal of increasing equity and non-discrimination in public policy, legislation, and regulation, helping to assure that everyone has opportunities to engage in education and employment so that they may fully engage and thrive in communities of their choosing.
In addition to all the behind the scenes and public advocacy, each year the RPC facilitates at least three one-hour webinars, and four in-person or virtual multi-part meetings that coincide with national legislator groups, including the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the Council of State Governments (CSG). A much-anticipated part of RPC meetings is honoring state legislators as Mental Health and Substance Use Champions. To date, the RPC has recognized over 125 bipartisan state legislative champions.
2023 Regional Meetings
MHA’s Regional Policy Council (RPC) meetings and events coincide with major policymaker groups. Please note that the dates listed below are tentative and are subject to change. Please contact Janelle Gonzaga at email@example.com or Executive Vice President of State and Federal Advocacy Debbie Plotnick at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Mental Health America Regional Policy Council Meeting: Focus on Youth Voices (Virtual) - February 9, 2023
- Mental Health America Regional Policy Council Webinar: When Equity Meets Policy: Attacks, Impacts, and Pushback - April 25, 2023
- Mental Health America Regional Policy Council Meeting: Racing Towards Access, Equity, and Recovery - August 15, 2023
- Mental Health America Regional Policy Council Meeting: Innovations for Now and the Future - December 6, 2023
*Links to more information for each meeting will be added as updates are announced.
Past Regional Policy Council Meetings
- Virtual RPC Meeting Coinciding with the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting: January 28, 2022
- RPC Meeting Coinciding with the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit: August 2, 2022
- Virtual RPC Meeting: October 24, 2022
- RPC Meeting Coinciding with the Council of State Governments National Conference: December 7, 2022
- Crisis Equals Opportunity - December 2021
- From Diversion To Deflection To Prevention - Summer 2021
- Why Addressing Mental Health is Key to Budgeting and Legislating During COVID-19 - February 2021
- Injustice and Inequity: The Path Toward Innovation and Inclusion - December 2020
- COVID-19, Entrenched Inequities, and Police Practices - August 2020
2023 Regional Policy Council Representatives
Barbara Johnston, Director of Advocacy, MHA in New Jersey
Represents (VT), NY, NJ, CT, DE, PA, MD, VA, RI, MA, (ME), and (NH)
Ben Harrington, Executive Director, MHA of East Tennessee
Represents IN, TN, LA, TX, MS, AL, OK, AZ, (AR), (NM), and (WV)
Shannah Mulvihill, Executive Director, Mental Health Minnesota
Represents OH, IL, WI, MN, MO, KS, MI, NE, IA, ND, MT, CO, UT, KY, (SD), and (ID)
Laura Evans, Director, National and State Policy, Vibrant Emotional Health
Represents NC, SC, GA, FL, CA, HI, (WY), (NV), (WA), (OR), and (AK)