Mental Health America Affiliates (MHAs) bring together mental health and addictions consumers, parents, advocates and service providers for collaboration and action. As their state association, MHAI provides training and technical assistance to these affiliates on issues like managed care, mental health parity advocacy, depression and anxiety disorders, education and children's mental health issues. The state office offers local MHAs vital assistance in board development, fundraising plans and program implementation. MHAs provide public education, information and referral, support groups, rehabilitation services, socialization and housing services to those confronting mental health problems and their loved ones. Many also provide family advocate services to parents and children with serious emotional disturbances, mentoring relationships for adults recovering from mental illnesses, and professional education to those working in the mental health field. They serve as local leaders in the support and development of consumer-run initiatives and primary prevention programs. Finally, affiliates strive to influence public policy at the local, state, and national level to assure fair and effective treatment to the millions of Americans suffering from mental health and addictive disorders.
Starting an MHA in your community involves bringing together mental health stakeholders to address issues that are affecting your state or local area. The best place to start is where you already are, with the people you care about and the issues you want addressed. The best organizers usually come from one or more of the stakeholder groups themselves (consumers, parents, advocates, and service providers). For someone within these groups, it is often easy to develop a list of primary contacts and issues that need to be addressed.
Many states and communities already have MHAs. To learn about MHAs in your area, please review our Affiliate Directory and feel free to contact them to learn how you can become involved.