As we embark on our #ThrowbackThursday journey for #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth this May, we are peaking into the history of the MHC Advocating for mental health in Connecticut. 

For over a century, MHC has been at the forefront of efforts to improve mental health services, promote long-term wellness for individuals with mental health conditions, and combat discrimination stemming from mental health diagnoses.  

MHC strives to expand the breadth of and access to community-based services at the federal and state levels enabling people with mental health conditions to engage with the types of services they need when they need them. We also believe that the conditions that have caused inequity and injustice for centuries in this country must be dismantled for systemic change in the mental health world to occur. 

“Advocacy is the cornerstone of progress in mental health. It’s about amplifying the voices of those who have been silenced, empowering individuals to share their stories, and working tirelessly to dismantle barriers that stand in the way of mental wellness. Together, through advocacy, we can create a future where everyone has access to the support and resources they need to thrive.” – Mike Finley, MHC’s Public Policy Coordinator  

Advocacy lies at the heart of our endeavors, and we invite you to join us in this noble cause. Our advocacy efforts are anchored on three core principles for effecting real change: 

  1. Informing elected officials and policymakers about issues that impact the ability for individuals, families, and communities to achieve mental wellness;  
  2. Motivating those impacted by mental health conditions to share their stories; and  
  3. Creating and participating in coalitions designed to build consensus around systems change.  

In July 2019, our advocacy efforts culminated in a significant milestone when Governor Ned Lamont signed a groundbreaking “mental health parity law.” This legislation, formerly known as An Act Concerning Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits, received unanimous, bipartisan support. The law mandates that private insurance plans in Connecticut adhere to the regulations outlined in the 2008 Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). This federal law ensures that healthcare coverage for mental health and substance use disorders is no less restrictive than coverage for medical and surgical benefits. 

The success of the 2019 parity law is a testament to years of relentless advocacy by various groups, including the CT Parity Coalition, led by MHC in collaboration with advocates from over 25 organizations and associations across Connecticut. Together, we worked closely with state legislators, consumers, and other stakeholders to champion equity in the healthcare system. The Coalition continues to advocate for policy changes that protect the rights of individuals living with mental health and substance use disorder conditions, ensuring they receive fair treatment and access to essential services. 

As we look ahead, our commitment to advocating for mental health remains unwavering. If you’re interested in learning more about the CT Parity Coalition or getting involved in our advocacy efforts, please contact Mike Finley at mfinley@mhconn.org.