What is volunteer advocacy all about?
The purpose of volunteer advocacy is to broaden the base of mental health ambassadors in the Rhode Island community. In May 2002, the board of the Rhode Island Council of Community Mental Health Organizations (RICCMHO) voted to implement this effort to better coordinate its advocacy activities, especially those aimed at state leaders.
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Why should I get involved?
First and foremost, you are an important part of the mental health care community in Rhode Island. By getting involved and voicing your concerns, you will help shape how services and treatment will be strengthened and resources expanded in the coming years so that your needs and those of your friends, family, or clients, can be better met.
Who should get involved?
We encourage mental health providers, consumers, family members, educators, business people and interested individuals to get involved.
- Almost 60 million Americans – one in four adults and one in five children have a mental illness that can be diagnosed and treated in a given year.
- Mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Mental illness drains our national economy of more than $80 billion each year, in lost wages and decreased productivity – accounting for 15% of the total economic burden of all disease.
- Alcohol and drug abuse contributes to the death of more than 100,000 Americans and costs upwards of half a trillion dollars a year.
- Up to two-thirds of homeless adults suffer from chronic alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, or some combination of the three, often complicated by serious medical problems.
- On average, persons with mental illness die 25 years earlier than those in the general population.
- The mental health and addiction treatment system offers a vital safety net to some of Rhode Island’s poorest and most vulnerable residents – Medicaid beneficiaries, the uninsured, the homeless, children in foster care, older adults, veterans, and those in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
- Success rates for treating mental illness now exceed those of other leading physical illnesses.
- Up to 90% of people treated with a combination of medication and therapy experience substantially reduced symptoms, enhanced quality of life, and increased productivity.
- Community mental health and addiction treatment organizations work cooperatively with law enforcement, primary care providers, hospitals, the criminal justice system, schools, and other partner agencies to provide a range of programs and support services to those in need.
- Addiction treatment has been shown to cut drug use in half, reduce crime by 80%, and reduce arrests by 64%.
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