The following was written by Hannah Johnson for Public Health Insider:
If this year’s surge in voter registration tells us anything, it’s that King County residents are eager to make their voices heard. And thanks to our friends at King County Elections, voting have never been easier. To all those who have already voted (and if you haven’t, get on it!) we have great news: you don’t have to wait until 2020 to feel the sweet satisfaction of participating in democracy again. In fact, your next opportunity is right around the corner at the 2018 King County Behavioral Health Legislative Forum, aka the biggest night of the year in behavioral health.
This powerful event brings lawmakers, people in recovery, and other community members together to talk about how we can work together to support people in recovery. Mental health and substance use disorders touch all of our lives in some way, and the forum is your opportunity to meet directly with lawmakers to let them know your opinion on mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery.
If the opportunity to make your voice heard and participate in democracy wasn’t enticing enough for you, here are 5 more reasons you should attend this year’s forum.
1. Share what matters to you
The forum begins with a public reception and dedicated time for constituents to meet informally with state legislators, county council members, and legislative staff. It’s a chance to sit down directly with your legislator and share what matters most to you, your family, and your community when it comes to mental health and substance use. Click here to see the list of elected officials who plan to attend.
2. Learn what we’re working on this year
Every year, King County partners with our elected officials to improve our service systems and tackle our challenges together. As part of the forum, we’ll announce King County’s legislative priorities in behavioral health. These are the things we’ll be working on with our state and federal elected officials, like improving access to community-based treatment or preserving the protections of the Affordable Care Act.
3. Help fight stigma about mental health and substance use
Sharing with your friends, family, and community how substance use and mental health impact your life or your loved ones puts a face to an issue that is too often stereotyped or misunderstood. These conversations can save lives. When we change how individuals, communities, and systems see and treat people with substance use or mental health conditions, we make it easier to find help and maintain hope that recovery is possible.
4. Did we mention you can sit down with your legislator?
This one is worth repeating: Almost 20 elected officials and their staff plan to attend, and they really want to hear from you.
5. Celebrate people in recovery
We celebrate birthdays, we celebrate anniversaries, we even celebrate made-up social media #holidays. On November 8, it’s time to celebrate the thousands of people in our communities who are in recovery or on a journey toward it. We can’t wait to see you there.
Click here to learn more and register for the forum on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall (301 Mercer Street).
Planning to attend? Tweet your reason for attending this year’s forum and tag #KC4Recovery.