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Legislative Advocacy

Goals:

  •          Funding for Suicide Prevention Education and Intervention Programs and Activities

  •          Advocacy for solutions to mental health issues and suicide in our communities.

  •          Improved quality, focus and attention on legislation and regulations relative to Suicide Prevention and mental health           services including limited access to lethal means, increased access, health insurance parity and increasing number of             qualified mental health providers

 

Vision:

Effective coalition-building and communication with state and federal legislators will empower all levels of government to improve mental health services and decrease suicide rates in the North Central Massachusetts and North Quabbin Areas.

 

Purpose:

Constituency Development: The Suicide Prevention Task Force recognizes that while elected officials are elected to ensure the needs of the community as a whole are addressed, the important messages of the impact of improved mental services on suicide rates may be limited.

The Suicide Prevention Task Force Legislative Sub Committee is committed to engaging other constituencies impacted by the issues of suicide and mental health within our community and to help them find their voice for advocacy with our local, state, and federal elected officials. The Sub-Committee encourages active interaction with its local, state, and federal elected officials to raise awareness of the current issues, obstacles, and opportunities evolving around the areas of suicide prevention and intervention and mental health.

The development of this subcommittee allows not only for an enhancement of the relationship between the Suicide Prevention Task Force and the community, but this open engagement and dialog with local, state, and federal legislators has opened up communication channels that allow for the free flow of ideas and questions to address the issues of suicide and mental health services.

Public Education and Awareness: In order for constituent members to have an effective role in advocacy they need to be able to understand legislation and the process by which bills become law and regulations are effectuated.

Elected officials have unique access to large groups, community organizations and agencies interested and involved in the process of Suicide Prevention and Intervention and mental health services. Through their direct involvement and participation in the process to support and enhance services meant to reduce suicide rates and improve mental health services, members of the Legislative sub-committee of the Suicide Prevention Task Force can bring a more targeted awareness of these issues in our communities. This sub-committee will also help members understand the impact and the costs associated with any proposed legislation or regulation, and more specifically, the tragic toll suicides are having on our communities.

The Sub-Committee encourages active interaction with its local, state, and federal elected officials to raise awareness of the current issues, obstacles, and opportunities evolving around the areas of suicide prevention and intervention and mental health.

Legislation: The Suicide Prevention Task Force looks to the sub-committee for guidance on specific legislation being considered. Additionally the sub-committee directs and develops a legislative strategy for the benefit of the Suicide Prevention Task Force, offering resolutions and positions they believe the members should review and discuss and action steps the members might take to positively or adversely affect the proposed legislation or regulation.

Members:

Chair: Robert Antonioni, esq
Senator Stephen Brewer
Senator Jen Flanagan
Representative Kim Ferguson
Representative Denise Andrews
Representative Jen Benson
Representative Anne Gobi
Representative Steve DiNatali
Representative Denis Rosa
District Attorney Joseph Early
District Attorney David Sullivan
Mayor Mark Hawke
Sheriff Lew Evangelidis
Sheriff Christopher Donelan
Rep. Ray LaFontaine
Mayor Daniel Kelley
Barbara Nealon, Director, Social Services and Multi-Cultural Services, Heywood Hospital
Dawn Casavant, VP Philanthropy, Heywood Hospital
Nora Salovardas, Director, Mental Health Unit, Heywood Hospital
Michael Ellis, Coordinator, Men’s Project, Heywood Hospital