This advocacy action plan highlights organizations, politicians and lobbyists that are currently advocating for people with bipolar. Our readers who wish to improve resources related to bipolar disorder and eliminate the stigmas against mental illness should consider contacting these organizations and individuals and getting involved in their efforts.

(Scroll down for more detailed information on some of the organizations in this action plan.)

Organizations to Talk To:

  • Mental Health America
    • Address: 500 Montgomery Street, Suite 820, Alexandria, VA 22314
    • Phone: (703) 684-7722
    • Paul Gionfriddo, President
    • Nathaniel Counts, Senior Director of Policy (
  •  NAMI
    • Address: 3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100 Arlington, VA 22203
    • Phone: (703)524-7600
    • Mary Giliberti, J.D., Chief Executive Officer (
    • Angela Kimball, National Director, Advocacy & Public Policy (
    • Address: 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857
    • Phone: (240)276-1310
    • Kana Enomoto, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse (

Senators/Representatives to Reach Out To:

  • Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24)
    • In June 2017, he introduced the Mental Health Improvement Act  to expand access to mental health services
    • In 2015, together with New York State Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli (129th District) announced the creation of a six-month task force to address gaps in pediatric mental health care in Central New York
    • Address: 1620 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
    • Phone: (202) 225-3701
  • Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32)
    • Founder and Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus
    • In June 2017, together with Sen. Al Franken, she reintroduced the Mental Health in Schools Act
    • Address: 1610 Longworth, Washington, DC 20515
    • Phone: (202) 225-5256
  • Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)
    • Introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646, in 2015
    • Address: 2332 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515
    • Phone: (202) 225-2301
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
    • In 2014, the Senate passed her legislation (the Military Mental Health Review Board Improvement Act) that would require the panel that reviews military discharges to have either a mental health professional or a doctor with a mental health certification on its board.
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    • In 2015, he announced new legislation that would tighten gun laws and increasing funds for mental healthcare
    • He also has made efforts to support fully funding the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which the Senate’s budget proposal currently recommends cutting by $159 million
  • Other representatives working for Mental Health:
    • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
    • Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
    • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
    • Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)

Lobbying Efforts:

  • Nathaniel Counts is the lobbyist for Mental Health America, which spent $19,826 in 2016 lobbying for mental health (
  • The DoCanto Group
    • A bipartisan government relations firm specializing in public health and health care legislative and regulatory policy, with a particular focus on underserved communities.
    • Licy M. DoCanto is founder and president of the DoCanto Group
    • Address: 1341 G St NW, 5th floor, Washington, DC 20005
    • Phone: (202) 997 5963
    • Email:
  • The Raben Group
    • Washington, D.C.-based lobbying, consulting, and public affairs firm founded specializing in issues of law and public policy.
    • Lobbying income in 2014 was about $4.5M and it was included in The Hill’s top lobbyists in 2014, with a notation that Raben has “a reputation as a lobbyist who champions social causes.”
    • Address: 3 Columbus Circle, Suite 1524, New York, NY 10019
    • Phone: 212.520.4964
  • Capitol Decisions, Inc.
    • Full-service Federal Government relations firm that provides comprehensive Legislative and Executive Branch strategic advice, liaison service, and advocacy.
    • Represents clients in such diverse areas as economic development, addiction-related health care, energy policy, telecommunications, and higher education.
    • Carol McDaid, Principal
    • Address: 101 Constitution Ave. NW, Suite 650 East, Washington, DC 20001
    • Phone: (202) 737-8168
    • Email:


Founded: 1979
Headquarters: Virginia
Approach: Education, Advocacy, Support/HelpLine, Outreach
Total Assets at end of 2016: $13,043,996

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. They are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in communities to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need. There are over 1,000 NAMI chapters, represented in all 50 U.S. states.

Structure: The National Alliance on Mental Illness is organized into state and local city or county wide affiliates in an attempt to more accurately represent those in the surrounding communities. National and State NAMI Organizations function to provide Governance, Public Education, Political Advocacy, and management of NAMI’s Educational Programs. Providing support for mental health consumers occurs at more local levels, and typically involves assistance in obtaining mental health resources, scheduling and administration of NAMI’s programs, and hosting local meetings and events for NAMI members in the community.

How NAMI Works: Education: Offered in thousands of communities across the United States through NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates, their education programs ensure hundreds of thousands of families, individuals and educators get the support and information they need.

Advocacy: NAMI shapes national public policy for people with mental illness and their families and provides volunteer leaders with the tools, resources and skills necessary to save mental health in all states.

Helpline: Their toll-free NAMI HelpLine allows them to respond personally to hundreds of thousands of requests each year, providing free referral, information and support.

Outreach: Public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness Awareness Week and NAMIWalks, successfully fight stigma and encourage understanding. NAMI works with reporters on a daily basis to make sure our country understands how important mental health is.

Funding: NAMI’s funding comes from a variety of sources. A majority comes from individual donors and contributors, and the remainder of our operations is financed by a variety of sources including corporate sponsorships, foundations, dues, grants, events and other partnerships.

Mental Health America

Founded: 1909
Headquarters: Virginia
Partners: 240 affiliates throughout America
Approach: Advocacy, Education, Research, Service
Total Assets at end of 2016: $5,160,084

Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans.

It is the largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. Mental Health America works to improve the mental health of all Americans, especially the 54 million individuals with mental disorders, through advocacy, education, research and service. Mental Health America was established by former psychiatric patient Clifford W. Beers.

Who are MHA Affiliates? The affiliates of MHA provide public education, information and referral, support groups, rehabilitation services as well as socialization and housing services to those confronting mental health problems and their loved ones.

Many also provide family advocate services to parents of children with serious emotional disturbances, mentorship or peer support for adults recovering from mental illnesses, and professional education to those working in the mental health field. They serve as local leaders in the support and development of consumer-run initiatives and primary prevention programs.

Finally, affiliates strive to influence public policy at the local, state, and national level to assure access to fair and effective treatment for the millions of Americans suffering from mental health conditions.

How Does MHA Work? As their national association, Mental Health America provides training, toolkits and technical assistance to their affiliates on issues including, but not limited to:

  • implementation of the Affordable Care Act;
  • mental health parity advocacy; and
  • public education about mental health issues and wellness strategies.

Mental Health America also offers affiliates vital assistance on operational issues as well, such as board development, fundraising plans and program implementation.  Affiliates also have access to a collection of online templates and resources on the Affiliate Only section of the Mental Health America website.  Affiliates pay annual dues for access to these resources and discounts on publications and event registration fees.

Support for Mental Health Caucuses: Mental Health America is also working with advocates and legislators to promote and support efforts to achieve priority attention for mental health issues in state legislatures by developing materials to support the growth of state mental health caucuses that fosters dialogue and partnership between advocates and policymakers.

MHA also collaborates with scientists, practitioners, policy experts, advocates, and other community leaders to design policy recommendations that promote:

  • Prevention for all
  • Early identification and intervention for those at risk
  • Integrated care and treatment for those who need it
  • Recovery as the goal

MHA Policy Priorities: Each Position Statement provides an overview of where MHA stands on each issue, a background of the issue, and a call to action that lists specific changes that they work for:

SAMHSA (Government Agency)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Congress established the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 1992 to make substance use and mental disorder information, services, and research more accessible. The agency awards grants to various state departments of health to support their mission.

SAMHSA helps providers integrate behavioral health services into the broader health system to ensure that mental, addictive, and physical conditions are treated similarly. That effort also includes encouraging the increased use of health information technology for integrated health care.

SAMHSA serves as a key subject-matter expert to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on policy issues related to the financing and delivery of behavioral health services. It also develops unique research, analysis, and primary data on financing, including national spending projections for treatment and services.

SAMHSA Strategic Initiatives help provide treatment and services for people with mental and substance use disorders, support the families of people with mental and substance use disorders, build strong and supportive communities, prevent costly behavioral health problems, and promote better health for all Americans.


  • Kana Enomoto, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
  • Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director (Center for Mental Health Services)