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Advocacy Resources

In today’s society, a person with mental illness is not necessarily guaranteed equal protection under the law. Job and housing discrimination still affects millions of persons with disabilities. In fact, many persons with disabilities report that the biggest barrier to their recovery is discrimination. There are many laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.  It is important that persons with disabilities know their rights and advocate for themselves.

In addition to the ADA, there are other laws and public policies that affect people with disabilities. Some of these laws protect consumer rights, while others may actually serve to violate them. They include laws that regulate involuntary hospitalization, fairness in insurance policies for covering mental illness and others. These laws are passed at the local, state and federal level.

It is important to advocate for the civil rights and human dignity of those with mental illness, because without advocacy, their rights might be ignored or abused. There are many people and organizations that are involved in this advocacy. They are part of a grassroots movement that is working to ensure these rights are protected.

Grassroots advocacy is one of the best ways to influence public policies and the laws that affect people with disabilities. Over the last 20 years, numerous local and national organizations have come together to advocate for these rights. They work by organizing people into a collective voice that lawmakers will listen to.

National Resources

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a group of consumers, family members and friends that work to educate the public about mental illness. NAMI has education programs that teach the public about mental illness.

Mental Health America is dedicated to erasing the stigma and discrimination that affects people with mental illness and advocates for them by following public policy, lobbying lawmakers and grassroots organizing.

The David E. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is an advocacy organization that follows laws that affect people with mental illness. This is an excellent public policy site on issues that affect mental health laws.

State Resources

Mental Health America of Colorado is the state chapter of Mental Health America.  You can learn about what’s happening at the local level.

Colorado Cross Disabilities Coalition advocates for all people with disabilities.  They are involved in legislative and policy advocacy.  They also help individuals with disabilities to protect their rights.

The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People is an independent non-profit specializing in civil rights and discrimination issues. They work to protect the civil and legal rights of people with mental and physical disabilities, people with HIV, and older people throughout Colorado.