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New Bipartisan Research: Mental Health Emerging as Top-Priority Issue for Voters

The findings reinforce the immense potential of this moment and marks the launch of the new Healings Minds, Powering Communities campaign to reframe serious mental illness and support community-based solutions.

New York, NY — New bipartisan messaging research released by Fountain House as part of its Healing Minds, Powering Communities campaign shows that an overwhelming majority of voters across partisan lines support increasing funding for programs that address serious mental illness (SMI).

The national survey, focus groups, and stakeholder interviews — conducted by Lake Research Partners, Black Raspberry Consumer Insights, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting — sought to gauge what Americans think about mental health care and its electoral impact. Findings show that voters across partisan lines are not only concerned about the stigma associated with mental illness and the persistent lack of affordable and accessible treatment, but that mental health is emerging as a top-priority issue that influences their vote.

Among our key findings:

  • Voters are looking to elected officials to address serious mental illness — and will reward them when they do. If an elected official increases funding for programs and interventions directed towards mental illness, 76% of voters say they’d be more likely to support them, including 46% who said they’d be much more likely to support them.

  • This holds true across partisan lines, even if it would increase voters’ taxes. While rising costs and inflation remain a dominant concern for a majority of voters, more than seven in 10 (72%) say they would be more likely to vote for an elected official who supports increased funding for serious mental illness interventions and programs.

  • When thinking about healthcare today, 75% of voters say the U.S. spends too little on mental health services. Similarly, 73% say the U.S. spends too little on services for serious mental illness. Many support increased funding for community-based mental health programs (83% support, 59% strongly support) and show even stronger intense support for community-based programs that treat serious mental illness (85% support, 64% strongly support), including clubhouses.

  • Almost half of all voters (47%) have a personal connection to someone with a mental illness — either themselves, a family member, or a close friend.

Bolstered by these findings, the new Healing Minds, Powering Communities campaign aims to leverage this unique moment when elected officials and the general public alike are seeking compassionate, well-resourced public policy to address mental illness — and are primed and ready to fund evidence-based approaches for change.

The multi-year, collaborative effort brings together a wide tent of stakeholders and partners, including people with lived experience, to advocate for community-based approaches to addressing serious mental illness; expand access to proven interventions and preventative measures; and grow and sustain a movement that reduces stigma and discrimination for people living with SMI.

“What makes this campaign different is that it’s for and by people living with serious mental illness and represents, for the first time, a dedicated investment and commitment to restoring our dignity and autonomy,” said Arvind Sooknanan, a member of Fountain House Bronx who also serves on Fountain House’s Board of Directors. “Advancing a true community-based system of care is not only a means to recovery and thriving but can reset the narrative around mental illness from stigma to acceptance.”

“We urgently need new paradigms of public investment to make recovery and thriving the center of our policies and practices involving people with serious mental health challenges,” said Ken Zimmerman, CEO of Fountain House. “Healing Minds, Powering Communities emphasizes that we live in an age of solutions — when they are appropriately supported and resourced — and that prioritizing the voices of people with lived experience is central to combating problematic stereotypes.”

Among the partners for the campaign: Clubhouse International and more than 65 local clubhouses spanning 24 states across the country, 1 Million Madly Motivated Moms (1M4), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Public Health Association, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Canopy Roots, Center for Justice Innovation, Families USA, ForLikeMinds, Mental Health America of West Central Indiana, the Mental Health Coalition, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), the Steinberg Institute, the Technical Assistance Collaborative, Vera Institute of Justice, and VOCAL-NY.

From May 24-31, 2023, Healing Minds, Powering Communities will host a Community Mental Health Week of Action where clubhouses will be trained and encouraged to open their doors to elected officials, local media, and other stakeholders so they can witness the power of community-based care and its impact on addressing serious mental illness. Other partners will also be promoting the benefits of this proven approach to their networks as a scalable, cost-effective, and more humane way to improve public safety, reduce mental health crises, while minimizing criminal justice involvement and its disparate impact on communities of color.

“Clubhouse International is committed to continuing to lead in the effort of providing accessible recovery opportunities to anyone with lived experience of a mental illness by integrating the Clubhouse approach into health systems around the world,” said Joel D. Corcoran, Executive Director and CEO of Clubhouse International. “We are proud to partner in bringing the Healing Minds, Powering Communities advocacy campaign to the U.S.-based Clubhouses to effect policy change that prioritizes person-centered mental health care, and to increase funding for mental health services, such as the Clubhouse Model. This campaign will be instrumental in helping Clubhouses to advocate for their programs. The recent bipartisan research is an important validation for the Clubhouse network and supports what we see every day, that communities benefit from having a Clubhouse. Our vision is that one day there is a Clubhouse in every community.”

“As a member-led collective supporting initiatives, programs, and solutions that decriminalize mental illness and reduce interactions between law enforcement and Black community members, we believe those closest to an issue are the individuals with the most insight into the solutions,” said Tansy McNulty, Founder and CEO of 1 Million Madly Motivated Moms (1M4). “Healing Minds, Powering Communities advances the evidence-based, person-centered approaches to mental health that we know can make a difference and is importantly led by those with mental illness themselves. We’re proud to stand with and support this effort.”

“This new study underscores the high level of public support that exists for the expansion of community-based rehabilitation services and recovery supports that advance the dignity, agency, and connection to community of people with major mental health related challenges, especially for low income individuals and people of color,” said Harvey Rosenthal, CEO of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS). “NYAPRS will be a very active member of the campaign’s focus on public, policymaker, and media education: the need is urgent and requires their strong support to take immediate action.”

For more information on Fountain House and how we’re supporting people living with serious mental illness through direct services, practice innovation, advocacy, and policy change, visit FountainHouse.org.

Fountain House Fountain House is a national mental health nonprofit fighting to improve health, increase opportunity, and end social and economic isolation for people living with serious mental illness. Founded in 1948 in New York City, Fountain House originated the clubhouse model of community mental health that has been replicated more than 300 times in nearly 40 U.S. states and in 30 countries around the world.

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