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Advocacy Basics

If you have a story, you have the power to influence policymakers.

Policy change is one major way we can make a difference in the lives of people living with mental health conditions and their families. NAMI Texas advocates for an array of issues including:

. Protecting people’s access to treatment and services
· Attaining mental health parity
· Pairing jail diversion and reentry strategies with increased access to quality care

We maintain an active presence in the Texas State Capitol on priority issues with relationships on both sides of the aisle. We make our voice heard in the state agencies to guide the effective implementation of mental health policy. And we empower our local affiliate organizations and members to step up on advocacy.

NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy

Fall 2017 NAMI SMARTS Class

NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy is a hands-on advocacy training program that helps people living with mental illness, friends and family transform their passion and lived experience into skillful grassroots advocacy. Its purpose it to train local participants on how to share their story in a way that moves policy makers.

There are 4-modules to the course:
a) Telling Your Story
b) Contacting Your Policymaker
c) Meeting Your Policymaker, and
d) Medication Access: Protecting Choice.

The modules can be taught separately – with each one taking about 90 minutes – or all together.

Here are a couple sample resources from the curriculum:
Demo – Meeting Your Legislator
Seven Steps to Telling Your Story

The NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy course vastly enhances the power of mental health advocacy.  If you are interested in bringing a NAMI SMARTS for Advocacy course to your community, email Greg Hansch at

The Legislative Process

How to find out who your elected officials are and how to contact them: Enter your address at the following link

Texas legislative sessions and years: Texas is one of only a few states with a Legislature that does not meet every year. In Texas, the Legislature only meets in the first part of odd-numbered years. See the following link to for the legislative session deadlines calendar:

Texas legislative process: Here is where you can learn about the Texas legislative process –

Texas Legislature Online (TLO): This free, online service allows you to find out what is going on in the Legislature at all times. You can:
-Look up a bill:
-Create an account so you can create bill lists, set alerts, save searches, and more:
-See what the Legislature’s schedule is on any given day:
-Learn about the legislative committees:
-Many more functions! Just contact us if you need some help.  It can be a little daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, TLO is incredibly useful!

Texas House of Representatives:
(Tip: You can live-stream hearings by going to the Audio/Video section!)

Texas Senate:
(Tip: The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate and therefore has a very important role.)

Texas Governor:
(Tip: Connect with the Governor and other elected officials using social media.)

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