The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island is the watchdog of the mental health community. We increase consumers’ access to treatment and services, and improve the lives of people touched by mental illness. Our work includes:

Policy & Advocacy


MHARI advocates for policies that improve mental health services, increase access to care, and reduce discrimination. We collaborate with policymakers to influence legislation and funding decisions, ensuring mental health is prioritized in public policy agendas. 

  •     MHARI is leading the fight to establish a working Olmstead Plan in the State, ensuring that individuals living with serious mental illness and other disabilities have access to permanent supportive housing, employment and educational support, community services, and transportation. 
  •     We are members of the Governor’s Council on Behavioral Health and the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner’s (OHIC)Health Insurance Advisory Council.
  • To see other examples of the legislative bills that we have tracked and/or testified on, please click here



MHARI leads and collaborates in research initiatives to advance an understanding of the quality of the state’s mental health system and gaps within the system that fall short of meeting the needs of the community.  We collaborate with researchers and institutions to fund studies, promote evidence-based solutions, and disseminate research findings to the community and decision-makers. For current and past studies click here. Between 2019 and 2022, MHARI conducted five substantive research projects on the status of behavioral health in Rhode Island. The research and reports include:

Awareness and Education


MHARI raises awareness about mental health, debunking stigma and providing accurate information. We conduct educational campaigns, workshops, and public events to promote mental health literacy, help community members recognize signs of mental health conditions and understand the importance of seeking help. 

  • Our signature annual event, May is Mental Health Month, includes the “State of the Mental Healthcare System,” outlining Rhode Island’s strengths and weaknesses and calling on the State’s leadership to strengthen our system.
  • MHARI’s RI Parity Initiative (link) educates consumers and providers about their rights to mental healthcare treatment through health insurance. Learn more

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Black, Indigenous, People of Color, immigrants, those living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community are underrepresented in behavioral health provider networks and as consumers of services and treatment. MHARI’s DEI efforts fight racial bias and are included in all aspects of our work from policy development to community research to educational activities.  Together with local colleges and universities, we are developing a pipeline of future mental health professionals by awarding scholarships and internship stipends to graduate students from diverse backgrounds studying social work, marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, psychology, or psychiatry. All of our work in the DEI realm is guided by a community-based advisory council. Contact if you’d like more information.

Convening and Collaboration

MHARI convenes and collaborates with other stakeholders, including behavioral healthcare providers,consumers, community organizations, and schools, to create a coordinated approach to positive systems change, including:

  •     Creating a shared vision to end the incarceration of people who have contact with law enforcement due to untreated symptoms of serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). 
  •     Collaborating with Rhode Island College and other local stakeholders to increase the size and diversity of Rhode Island’s behavioral health provider network. 
  •     Organizing a grassroots movement of mental health patients, family members, and providers who are the “people power” behind our agenda. To join, visit the GET INVOLVED page and sign up to volunteer.


RI Parity Initiative

Our Rhode Island Parity Initiative educates consumers and providers about their rights to mental healthcare treatment through health insurance. We collaborate with the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, insurers, community based organizations, providers, and consumers to ensure that mental health parity laws are followed.  Learn more.