Along with the MHAC’s two regional Hubs in Northeast and Southwest Ohio, the MHAC has a Columbus office to advocate at the state-level. State-level work gives MHAC members the opportunity to advocate on policy and issues with members of the General Assembly and the administration. As a diverse coalition, the MHAC brings local and statewide voices together to advocate on state issues with a broader voice and message surrounding behavioral health advocacy.
Meetings & Events
The MHAC hosts quarterly State Policy & Advocacy Committee meetings, which all members are able to attend via online conferencing. The State P&A Committee also has an annual in person meeting in Columbus to strengthen membership across regions and meet with lawmakers, state agency directors, and sister organizations.
Yearly, the MHAC organizes the MHAC Advocacy Week. This week of meetings allows members the opportunity to meet with legislators in small groups to advocate for mental health and addiction disorder policy and funding initiatives.
The MHAC is the co-sponsor of the Legislative Mental Health Caucus, a group of legislators who are champions that meet two to three times a year to discuss and address mental health issues with effective public policy.
Similar to its regional Hubs, the MHAC’s state-level work is guided by a State-Level Advocacy Agenda, which is developed by MHAC members to address issues key mental health and addiction disorder issues. The agenda outlines the State Program and Policy Director’s work for a two-year period that coincides with terms of the General Assembly.
The State-Level Advocacy Agenda for 2021-2022 priorities include:
- State Support and Funding for Mental Health and Addiction Policies and Initiatives – The MHAC and its members actively advocate for policy related to behavioral health and state funding to improve the lives of those impacted by mental health and substance use disorders.
- Strengthen the Behavioral Health System and Access to Care – The MHAC advocates to standardize processes across managed care plans and address systemic issues, including providing care to multi-system youth, integrating physical and behavioral health care, coordinating care, addressing social determinants of health, promoting cultural competency, working with minority agencies, and moving to value-based contracting for improved outcomes.
- Educating Stakeholders, Policymakers, and Partners that Behavioral Health is Health Care – The MHAC educates policymakers, the business community, and the public about insurance coverage and the need for enforcement of parity between behavioral and physical health care, which is already law, informs members about the Ohio Department of Insurance and Department of Labor’s consumer complaint processes, and raises awareness to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and substance use disorders.
- Addressing Racial Disparities – The MHAC supports state efforts to reduce behavioral health disparities and systemic racism in the behavioral health system and deepens policymakers’ understanding of the role of racism on the behavioral health of minority populations.
- Workforce Development – The MHAC focuses on strengthening workforce development by working with state agencies such as higher education, Medicaid, and Mental Health and Addiction Services to address this challenge from all angels at the state-level.
Other ways members are included in state-level work:
- Members are informed of opportunities to engage in the legislative process.
- MHAC staff supports members in testifying or preparing written testimony and letters of support on legislation during the budget and on legislation related to behavioral health.
- Members have the opportunity to meet with legislators on issues of importance.
- MHAC staff can assist members with scheduling a tour and meeting at their organization with their state senator or representative.
- Members have the opportunity to attend meetings with state agencies to provide valuable insight on issues such as the procurement of new managed care contracts and workforce development.
All members are able to participate in state-level work.
Interested in becoming a MHAC member? Read more about who can become a member on our Join Us page.