CAMHPRO Executive Director Andrea Wagner joined some 30 other peer leaders from organizations across the U.S. for Hill Day 2023 with the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, July 10-13, in Washington D.C.
Andrea paired up with a Sonoma County peer from California and visited staff at legislative offices for state representatives, including Katie Porter, Ken Calvert, Tony Cardenas, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Doug LaMalfa, Judy Chu, and Nancy Pelosi.
The group handed out folders of information about peer support and shared values, including to emphasize the importance of consumers in every aspect of policy. They also encouraged national leaders to support California peer organizations in fighting current state proposals that threaten peer-run organizations, such as CARE Court and MHSA Modernization. The peer leaders implored representatives to allocate funding and support for peer respites and peer programming.
The event is a spin off of the former annual Alternatives Conference Hill Day. The group decided to have Hill Day without the Alternatives Conference this year. Some of the other state peer leaders in attendance included Dan Fisher (National Empowerment Center), Kevin Fitts (Oregon Mental Health Consumers Association), Harvey Rosenthal and Luke Sikinyi (New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services), Katie Rouse and Michelle Livshin (On Our Own of Maryland), Anna Gray (Prosumers International), Anthony Fox (Tennessee Mental Health Consumers Association), and Braunwynn Franklin (313 Network Solutions).
As another part of the event, the group met with representatives such as Megan Schuller (Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law), Jennifer Mathis (Dept. of Justice), and Paolo del Vecchio (SAMHSA Office of Recovery).
CAMHPRO will continue to work with the national coalition and is looking to participate in the planning committee for the next Alternatives Conference, an event that CAMHPRO’s founding director Sally Zinman participated in for many years, a national conference for peers since 1972.