Mental Health for US is a nonpartisan, educational coalition of more than 90 nonprofit organizations. Led by former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy and former Senator Gordon H. Smith, the initiative’s main focus is elevating mental health and addiction as key issues during the 2020 election cycle.
On January 13, the initiative held the Unite for Change Forum: California event in Los Angeles in partnership with the Institute for Addiction Science at the University of Southern California (USC). This event, featuring Rep. Kennedy, NBC News senior national correspondent Kate Snow and actress and singer-songwriter Kiana Ledé, among other national and local advocates, provided training and education for community members to effectively advocate for mental health and addiction discussions throughout the 2020 election. The program, attended by 400 individuals, advocates and other stakeholders, started at 5:30 p.m. PST at USC’s Bovard Auditorium and was livestreamed on Facebook.
During the program, Snow moderated a policy panel with Professor Elyn Saks from USC Gould School of Law, Norm Ornstein, political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, and Ricky Bluthenthal, associate dean for social justice and professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Ryan Hampton from the Recovery Advocacy Project lead an advocacy panel comprising Lianna Treitler, USC student and author of “My Dad is an Alcoholic, What About Me?”, Chris Miller, president and CEO at Mental Health America of Los Angeles, and Ross Szabo, wellness director at the Geffen Academy at UCLA. Other local speakers shared their stories of recovery and called for access to resources in schools and workplaces.
Mental Health for US will continue to educate policymakers, the press and presidential candidates through #AskAboutMentalHealth, a grassroots social media campaign designed to encourage moderators and candidates to discuss mental health and addiction policies during presidential debates.
For more information about Mental Health for US, visit the initiative’s website.