Regardless of how much you know or don’t know about the current state of politics in our country, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless during these weeks leading up to the coming presidential election. Fierce debates, the official presidential ones and the ones that play out on social media fought by strangers behind screens, have helped create an uncomfortable tension that can be felt by everyone here in America and abroad. Sometimes it makes me afraid to ask questions. Other times it makes me want to retreat to somewhere where politics don’t matter.
But politics do matter. This election matters because it affects me, my friends, my family, and people I’ve never even met.
Politics matter because people matter.
Here are some questions to answer to make sure you’re ready to use your vote as your voice and #Act4MentalHealth (http://act4mentalhealth.tumblr.com/):
Are you registered to vote? Do you know where your polling place is? Do you have a time and date scheduled in your personal calendar to vote? Remember, you can vote early if you know the dates and times of the polling location of your choice. Otherwise, polls are open from 7am-8pm on Tuesday, November 8th, General Election Day, in Wisconsin. (If you have a disability and are experiencing any accessibility problems on Election Day, call the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition's toll free hotline: 1-800-928-8778) Do you know who you are voting for? Do they support who and what you care about? (Go to: https://myvote.wi.gov for more how-to voting information)
I care about a lot. It’s sometimes difficult to prioritize what needs attention when there is so much healing to do in this broken mental health care system, but being a part of a community that understands and cares about the things that I do makes it simpler. NAMI has put together a list of our national community’s top concerns when it comes to mental illness. Check it out below:
NAMI's 2016 Legislative Priorities
Increase the availability of quality mental health care
Promote early identification and intervention
Enforce mental health insurance parity
Support mental health caregivers
Do our candidates care about these priorities? Do they have a well thought-out platform that addresses mental health and supports people with mental illnesses in the U.S.? Have they spoken about mental health publicly, and, if so, how do say they plan to support people with lived experiences? If you don’t know, that’s okay! All it takes is a Google search to find the answers. (Just make sure you get your information from credible sources and not opinion pieces.)
It is our responsibility to do what we can to affect politics because, at a very basic level, it is right to care about people. It is right to ensure that those in elected offices care about people, as well. Please understand that you matter even when you feel powerless. Your vote has power, and, I promise you, your vote matters. Do the right thing.
Written by Leah Rolando, MSW Intern, NAMI Wisconsin