What we're doing, what you can do & why it all matters.
The current legislative session is in full swing and will continue through June. We wanted to share the advocacy work that The Hub is doing and give you specific ways you can contribute to advocacy efforts on your own.
The Hub advocates for an effective, equitable, and accessible behavioral healthcare system in Southwestern CT. We hear the voices of our region and support where we can. We become involved in and host events to educate in different opportunities, such as public legislative forums. We recognize and uplift the amazing legislative work happening locally in our towns! We are here to amplify the stories, voices, and legislative hopes of those in the region. We are also part of the Connecticut Prevention Network (CPN), which comprises the five Regional Behavioral Health Action Organizations (RBHAOs). You can review the list of CPN priorities here.
Recently, The Hub hosted a Southwestern CT Regional Legislative Forum discussing a range of behavioral health topics with our local legislators. With our regional Catchment Area Council (CAC), our regional legislative workgroup, and a dedicated group of volunteers, we identified our top legislative priorities. These priorities included Early Identification & Connection to Resources for Youth & Young Adults, Case Management & Case Coordination Services, Sustainability of Psychiatric Beds & Support Staff, and Mental Health in Older Adults. We also discussed the importance of harm-reduction and trauma-informed care. We teamed with different speakers who shared their stories and “asks” to legislators. Our forum was open to the public. Many stakeholders and community members attended to share their support or interest. Thank you to our legislators who attended, the community who listened, and especially our speakers for their powerful and impactful testimonies!
View our regional priorities and recording here. We will be sending out our forum info brief soon!
Examples of Advocacy
Advocacy is an action that addresses social issues in multiple forms. Examples can be advocacy in favor of, recommendations for, arguments against, supports, defends, or pleads on behalf of others. Personal advocacy is when you advocate for yourself or someone you care about. When you are advocating for others, this is policy advocacy. These can intertwine, depending on your goals. Advocacy does not need to be confrontational, needy, or selfish. Advocacy is planning, organizing, taking action on a cause, and strategizing. When you advocate, you may get involved with government bodies, schools, businesses, treatment centers, or any decision-making institution. You are asking for action or change.
Why does this matter?
Policymakers represent us and hold power to create change in our community. They are required to have broad knowledge to do so. They need to know enough to make effective and fair decisions for their constituents (that’s us!). Sometimes, they need to know more about specific issues, and we can assist them in education or offering new perspectives. That’s why they turn to us to listen and learn. Our voice matters because we can teach them about our experiences and what we know. This will then influence their policy actions. The more they hear from the communities they serve, the better they know their communities, the more informed and prepared they are when creating and proposing bills, and the better they can serve us.
What can I do?
The Hub will continue to highlight regional advocacy work in our newsletter. Be sure to subscribe so you know how you can get involved. We will also track relevant bills and participate in public hearings. To help you get started, view our Basics of CT Advocacy and Legislation Powerpoint and other helpful resources on our website. Below are five ways you can become an advocate:
Vote! We are the ones who choose our policymakers. We are the ones who choose legislators who represent us. But we have to get involved! Always be sure to vote in all elections. Think about who you want to represent you, and uplift your voice.
Stay informed & do your research. Keep up to date with what is happening in your community. Use credible sources and seek education if you need clarification on something. Reach out to your local advocacy groups for support. When speaking to others, be sure you are using facts and gathering all the parts of a story you need to know. Double-check your talking points and anticipate counterarguments.
Get involved & use your story (or not!) Remember the power in your voice! Remember the power in your story! If you are uncomfortable using your personal story, you don’t have to! Instead, you can provide facts and data or uplift the stories of others (with their knowledge and consent).
Encourage others to get involved & recognize your allies. There is power in numbers. When large numbers of individuals advocate for the same issues, this brings the attention of policymakers. Ask your community for support, and get your family and friends involved! You can also get involved with existing advocacy groups. Recognize who your allies are and find community.
Be respectful and patient. Advocacy can sometimes be frustrating. It may take a long time to see change. Be persistent and respectful, even if someone or something becomes frustrating. You never have to quiet your voice. There is power in the volume of voices, but be sure that you remain respectful and empathetic to make the most significant changes.
Why is my story important?
You are the expert in your own experience. When you speak up, you can illustrate what has happened, what is happening, and what can happen on different issues. You can use your experience in an emotional, compelling, and powerful way to get legislators to listen to you. This has the most significant impact when they can connect to you on a personal level. When effective, you can change the attitudes of and influence policymakers. Empathy creates waves of change.
Your story is always right and your emotions are valid. You’re the one who lived it! Stay true to yourself and your story, including what happened, what you learned, what could have helped, and more.
Your story has meaning and is important. No one can tell you otherwise or take away from your experience. No matter how we might be different from others, we all have something to learn from each other.
You don’t have to have all of the answers but have an “Ask.” An “Ask” is a clear and direct want or need related to what you are advocating.
You’re not alone. There is a vast community of individuals who have a similar story to yours and are willing to empower and support you in your journey!