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Mental health groups launch advocacy initiative

By Kansas Health Institute | July 31, 2013

A coalition of mental health advocacy groups has launched an initiative aimed at making legislators more aware of mental health issues.

“The goal is to have at least one person in every legislator’s district, and to have them be able to share what it’s like to live with a mental illness and to explain how their lives are affected by different state policies,” said Mark Wiebe, director of public affairs at Wyandot Center, the community mental health center in Wyandotte County.

The initiative, called “Kansas Voices for Mental Health,” is a project of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Kansas and the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

Wiebe, a member of the Coalition’s advocacy committee, said groups that advocate for the physically and developmentally disabled have been invited to join in the initiative’s training sessions.

The sessions are scheduled for the following dates and locations from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.:

  • Aug. 17 – Parsons and McPherson,
  • Sept. 7 – Hiawatha,
  • Sept. 14 – Dodge City,
  • Sept. 28 - Manhattan, and
  • Oct. 5 – Hays.

Rick Cagan, director of the Kansas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

View larger photo

“These are not going to be issue meetings, they’re going to be here’s-how-to-get-your-story-out meetings,” said NAMI-Kansas Executive Director Rick Cagan.

People interested in participating in the sessions may contact Cagan at either (785) 233-0755 or

“All of the locations and dates are dependent on getting enough subscribers,” Cagan said. “There’s an application process. We want to make sure we’re getting the right people there. If we get enough people to sign up, we’ll let them know the exact locations.”

Information also is available on the NAMI-Kansas and coalition websites.

Similar sessions were held last year.

“This is an ongoing effort,” Cagan said. “It’s all about building capacity.”

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