“Mental Health for US” Hosts Rally in Des Moines, Iowa to Organize Advocates Ahead of the 2020 Caucuses

“Unite for Change” Rally will demand action on mental health and addiction

Des Moines, IowaMental Health for US, a nonpartisan educational initiative dedicated to elevating mental health and addiction in national and state policy conversations, will host a Unite for Change rally today at Drake University to explore the pressing issues of mental health and addiction with former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy and Norman J. Ornstein, political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

As Iowans prepare to cast the first votes in the country for the 2020 primary election, national and state advocates want to ensure that mental health and addiction—including suicide and overdose prevention—are at the forefront of policy conversations; comprehensive, holistic approaches to mental health are integrated into physical health care; and our struggling systems are reformed to meet the needs of all Americans.

“Too often, mental health and addiction get pushed aside during election season even though they have devastating impacts on communities—both in Iowa and around the country. Mental health and addiction must be top-of-mind for every candidate running for public office,” said former U.S. Rep. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum and Mental Health for US co-chair. “This rally will provide advocates in Iowa the tools they need to stand up and demand action—it’s time for all of us to hold policymakers accountable for prioritizing these issues.”

Iowa has been disproportionally impacted by the behavioral health workforce shortage. The state ranks 47th nationally in the number of practicing psychiatrists per capita, and has the lowest ratio of state psychiatric beds to residents in the country, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness – Iowa (NAMI).

“Mental health services should be available to every person that needs them. I’m proud of Iowa’s state and national policymakers who are listening and taking action to increase access to the supports our community needs,” said Peggy Huppert, executive director of NAMI – Iowa and emcee of the Rally. “This isn’t just a state problem. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we in the mental health and addiction community make our voices heard on the national level.”

In addition to several national leaders joining the event, local advocates will share personal stories highlighting the impact mental health and addiction has on individuals, families, and communities.

For a full list of speakers and bios, please see our Press Kit.

Watch a livestream video of the rally here.

About Mental Health for US

Mental Health for US is a nonpartisan educational initiative focused on elevating mental health and addiction in policy conversations by empowering grassroots advocates and improving candidate and policymaker health literacy. The initiative is powered by a coalition of more than 65 stakeholder groups from around the country dedicated to uniting the American people to make systemic, long-term change with civic engagement tools and resources. For more information, visit www.mentalhealthforus.net.

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