Mental Health for US

The Challenge

With one in five Americans living with a mental illness, one in 12 living with addiction, and deaths from suicide at the highest they have been in two decades, mental health and addiction reform should be critical conversation topics during the election season. Mental Health for US is a nonpartisan initiative focused on educating voters and policymakers on barriers to mental health and addiction treatment and recovery resources, while empowering voters to advocate for mental health policies and improving candidate and policymaker health literacy.

How CURA Strategies and the Kennedy Forum are Bringing Mental Health and Addiction Reform to the Forefront of National Policy Talks in 2020 Elections

The Kennedy Forum partnered with CURA Strategies to launch Mental Health for US ahead of the 2020 election season in an effort to prioritize mental health and addiction as a national issue, leading to reform and policy talks. CURA Strategies was selected to develop and execute a strategic communications plan for the launch Mental Health for US to:

  • Position Mental Health for US as a leading movement to elevate mental health and addiction in national policy conversations through strategic communications and media relations efforts
  • Recruit coalition leaders and members and policy influencers to join the honorary advisory board
  • Develop a national policy platform on mental health and addiction in coordination with coalition leaders
  • Recruit voters to sign a statement of support for the coalition’s policy platform
  • Educate voters and policymakers on the urgency to address barriers to mental health and addiction treatment and recovery

To achieve these goals, CURA led all stakeholder engagement efforts, including recruitment, messaging coordination and all ongoing communications. Additionally, CURA developed a policy platform laying out the general areas that the mental health community wants addressed, organized in the categories of prevention, access, intervention and recovery. CURA also developed toolkits for stakeholders, voters and policymakers, detailing how to advocate for and promote mental health and addiction policy change.


Other responsibilities for launching and maintaining the initiative included:

  • Developing initiative branding and messaging
  • Building and maintaining the initiative’s website
  • Creating informative videos (both animated and featuring coalition spokespeople)
  • Assisting in coordinating and executing the launch event in Washington, D.C. with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy
  • Building and managing social media channels and posting engaging content
  • Producing print materials and buttons for coalition leaders to distribute at events during launch month
  • Securing broadcast and traditional media coverage
  • Developing and disseminating a presidential candidate survey on mental health and addiction
  • Planning, promoting and producing three advocacy events in Iowa, New Hampshire and California
  • Developing the successful #AskAboutMentalHealth social media campaign to urging Democratic primary debate moderators to ask questions on mental health and addiction
  • Producing voter engagement content, including holding an advocacy/voter registration training webinar in partnership with the National Association of Social Workers

Mental Health for US Case Study


Candidate outreach:

  • Developed and disseminated a survey to 17 leading presidential candidates about their plans for mental health and addiction, receiving responses from 9 candidates
  • 4 presidential candidates participated in the New Hampshire event (Govs. Bill Weld and Deval Patrick, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Joe Walsh) in December 2019

Stakeholder engagement:

  • Built the largest coalition of mental health groups around an election in history (96 organizations)
    • Secured 7 bipartisan policy influencers to join the honorary advisory board
  • Hosted three events in pivotal election states (Iowa, New Hampshire, California)
    • Total attendance: Approx. 800 in person, 12,600+ livestream views
    • High-profile speakers included: Norm Ornstein, Kate Snow
  • Coordinated speaking engagements and interviews for our coalition members and leaders

Social media highlights:

  • Reached more than 41 million people across platforms
  • 90,525 total engagements across platforms
    • Facebook is our most engaged platform, in large part due to Facebook Live
  • #MentalHealthforUS hashtag used over 4,600 times on Twitter

Media coverage:

  • 56 pieces of original coverage of the initiative, including in CSPAN, STAT, NBC News 4, and the Washington Examiner
  • Placed 6 op-eds from coalition leadership
  • Published 14 Medium articles on topics related to the policy platform

Mental Health for US - United for Change