The state of Georgia ranks last for access to mental health care, and while the stigma surrounding mental health is easing somewhat, people often find it difficult to find therapists. When you add the need for a culturally sensitive therapist, many people are left with nothing to turn to. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest mental health advocacy group in our state. Her work over the past year enabled the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act. This new law means, for the first time in Georgia, that all health insurance companies must cover mental health problems as well as physical ones, so that patients can no longer be denied medically necessary treatment. This was a great achievement. Miriam Goodfriend, who leads advocacy at NAMI-Georgia, joins us to discuss her upcoming Mental Health Day at the Capitol. This event will take place on January 31st at 11am. Every day, citizens need to speak to lawmakers about the need for more mental health support.

I ask Miriam Goodfriend to share information about her organization and her goals. She talks about her educational and advocacy programs for families and organizations. There are twenty NAMI member organizations in the state of Georgia that provide the basics, from education to a hotline.

Goodfriend explains that Mental Health Day at the Capitol is the gathering of organizations and individuals to speak with lawmakers about the need for more support around mental health services. There is power in numbers. The more citizens participate, the more seriously the legislator will take the challenge. She shares that this is how the Mental Health Parity Act was passed in 2022.

There is a shortage of mental health professionals nationwide. Goodfriend speaks to this challenge. Georgia is tackling part of the problem by increasing the pay of mental health professionals.

Goodfriend also talks about the new psychiatric hotline #988 that has gone into effect nationwide. She advises going to the emergency room if you have a mental health emergency. For a cordial hotline with assistance in finding a therapist or program, the NAMI hotline is 770-234-0855.

Sign up to attend Mental Health Day at the Capitol

When: January 31 at 11am
Where: Georgia State Capitol – 206 Washington St. SW Atlanta, GA 30334
What: Receive your 2023 Mental Health Advocacy Guide and meet with elected officials and advocates of Georgia’s mental health decade

Learn more about NAMI