The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island is the “watchdog” of the mental health community. We listen to and speak for the needs of consumers and providers. Through systems change, we promote mental health, increase consumers’ access to treatment and services, and improve the lives of people touched by mental illness.
MHARI is the face of mental health policy in Rhode Island. We sit on the Health Insurance Commissioner’s Health Insurance Advisory Council and the Mayor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force in Providence. We are also a constant presence at the State House, advocating for the passage of laws to promote mental health, increase access to treatment, and end discrimination. To see a sample of the legislative bills that we have tracked and/or testified on, please click here.
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.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color, immigrants and the LGBQT community are underrepresented in behavioral health provider networks and as consumers of services and treatment. This program focuses on outreach and educational activities; community research; policy development and advocacy; fighting racial bias; and a pipeline scholarship program at RIC to support students from diverse backgrounds as they pursue Master’s degrees in Social Work or Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program’s work is guided by a community-based DEI Advisory Council.
MHARI is leading the fight to establish a working Olmstead Plan in the State. An Olmstead Plan would ensure that individuals living with serious mental illness and other disabilities have access to permanent supportive housing, employment and educational support, community services, and transportation. Learn more and get involved here.
We convene stakeholders to create a shared vision of ending the incarceration of people who have contact with law enforcement due to untreated symptoms of serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). We collect data to track our progress and advocate for permanent supportive housing and comprehensive treatment for people with SPMI.
We collaborate with Rhode Island College and other local stakeholders to increase the size and diversity of Rhode Island’s behavioral health provider network. We find solutions to professional licensing barriers and offer free Mental Health First Aid training to community workers when funding permits.
We are developing an innovative youth mental health program and hope to pilot it at a high school in 2023.
During our annual event, May is Mental Health Month, we deliver an address called “State of the Mental Healthcare System,” which outlines Rhode Island’s strengths and weaknesses and calls on the State’s leadership to strengthen our system.
We work to end stigma by sharing our own stories of mental health struggles. We call out discrimination in all its forms. We educate the public on stigmatizing language and stereotypes.
“Change comes from power, and power comes from organizing.” – Saul Alinsky
Mental Health Voters League is MHARI’s organizing arm. This grassroots movement of mental health patients, family members, and providers serves as the “people power” behind our agenda. Through relationship-building and interest-based negotiation, we work with decision-makers to collaboratively find solutions to problems. When collaboration fails, and the stakes are high, we use community organizing to affect systemic change. To join, visit the GET INVOLVED page and sign up to volunteer.