Hundreds of advocates will rally for Mental Health Advocacy Day

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
January 20, 2023 
Contact: 
Laurie Emerson, NAMI Vermont – 802-876-7949 x101 - lemerson@namivt.org 
Julie Tessler, Vermont Care Partners – 802-279-0464 - Julie@vermontcarepartners.org 
Will Eberle, VAMHAR – 802-279-9069 – director@recoveryvermont.org  
Advocates Will Rally for Mental Health Advocacy Day 
Hundreds of Vermonters will rally together for a virtual Mental Health Advocacy Day on Monday, January 30th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Mental health organizations, peers, family members, and advocates will call on Vermont leaders and legislators to support mental health and inform them that “Mental Health Starts with YOUth”. Let’s be the generation that replaces mental health stigma with mental health support. 
“The good news is that mental health conditions can be effectively addressed”, commented Julie Tessler, Executive Director of Vermont Care Partners: VT Council, “To ensure that our youth, and all Vermonters, can access these essential health service we need to raise awareness and overcome stigma, then we must invest sufficient resources into our mental health care system. This is what Mental Health Advocacy Day is all about.”   
Will Eberle, Executive Director of The Vermont Association of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR) stated that, “VAMHAR is deeply committed to helping reduce stigma surrounding mental health challenges and ensure all Vermonters have access to robust mental health supports of their choosing. We see Mental Health Advocacy Day as a key opportunity to ensure elected officials, lawmakers, policy makers and other key change agents have the opportunity to hear Vermonter’s stories of struggle and resilience to inspire helpful policies and robust investments in mental health in Vermont. People interested in learning more about VAMHAR and Mental Health Advocacy Day are encouraged to contact us at director@recoveryvermont.org or 802-279-9069.” 
“This is our 8th year in planning Mental Health Advocacy Day to bring together 55+ co-sponsoring organizations, their network, and individuals that support mental health. It is an opportunity for advocates to share first person experiences of hope and recovery,” said Laurie Emerson, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont. “There has been an increase with youth struggling with their mental well-being. We need to intervene early to help support families and youth to get the right care at the right time to experience resiliency.”  
In Vermont approximately 104,000 adults and 6,000 youth aged 6-17 have a mental health condition – that’s 1 in 5 individuals.  Nearly 1 in 20 adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder – that’s 27,000 adults. Most people living with mental illness lead fulfilling, productive lives, but only with access to treatment and community care.  Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24.  A focus on promotion, prevention, and intervention strategies through community resources will reduce the impact of mental health conditions in Vermont. 
The day will include a welcome address from state leaders including Commissioner of Mental Health Emily Hawes; Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, Secretary of Human Services Jenney Samuelson; Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski; Ginny Lyons, Chair Senate Health & Welfare; Rep. Lori Houghton, Chair House Health Care; Senator Jane Kitchel, Chair Appropriations; and Rep. Diane Lanpher, Chair Appropriations.  
The keynote presentation, “The Kids Are Not Alright”, will feature Alexina Federhen, Miss Vermont 2022 who will share her lived experiences growing up as a teen in Vermont who struggled with depression and anxiety. She will discuss what she learned about brain health, holistic healing, and healthy coping mechanisms while she was writing her book, The Feel Better Way. She will also share the insights she’s gained visiting schools throughout Vermont over the past year. 
In the afternoon, individuals will share powerful first person experiences and stories. During the week, we are requesting to give testimony to the legislative committees. 
To be a part of this important event, join us at: https://namivt.org/mental-health-advocacy-day/ 
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The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont is a statewide, grassroots, non-profit, 501c3 organization that supports, educates and advocates so that all communities, families, and individuals affected by mental illness or mental health challenges can build better lives. 
The Vermont Association for Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a statewide information and advocacy organization that supports all paths to recovery from addiction and mental health conditions. 
Vermont Care Partners providing statewide leadership for an integrated, high-quality system of comprehensive services and supports and representing 16 non-profit community-based agencies that provide developmental, mental health, and substance abuse services to Vermonters. 
 



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