Hundreds of advocates will gather for Mental Health Advocacy Day


January 20, 2023


Laurie Emerson, NAMI Vermont – 802-876-7949 x101 –

Julie Tessler, Vermont Care Partners – 802-279-0464 –

Will Eberle, VAMHAR – 802-279-9069 –

Advocates will participate in Mental Health Advocacy Day

Hundreds of Vermonters will come together for a Virtual Mental Health Advocacy Day on Monday, January 30 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Mental health organizations, peers, family members, and advocates Ask Vermont leaders and legislators to support mental health and let them know that “Mental Health Begins with YOUTH.” Let’s be the generation that replaces mental health stigma with mental health support.

“The good news is that mental health conditions can be effectively addressed,” said Julie Tessler, executive director of Vermont Care Partners: VT Council, “to ensure that our youth, and all Vermonters, can access these essential health services, we must raise awareness and overcome stigma, then we must invest enough resources in our mental health care system. This is what Mental Health Advocacy Day is all about.”

Will Eberle, Executive Director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR) stated, “VAMHAR is deeply committed to helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and ensuring that all Vermonters have access to robust mental health supports of their choice. We see Mental Health Advocacy Day as a key opportunity to ensure that elected officials, legislators, policymakers, and other key change agents have the opportunity to hear Vermonter’s stories of struggle and resilience to inspire useful policy and solid investments in mental health in Vermont. Individuals interested in learning more about VAMHAR and Mental Health Advocacy Day are encouraged to contact us at or 802-279-9069.”

“This is our 8the year in planning Mental Health Advocacy Day to bring together more than 55 co-sponsoring organizations, their network and individuals who support mental health. It is an opportunity for advocates to share first-hand experiences of hope and recovery,” said Laurie Emerson, executive director of the Vermont National Alliance on Mental Illness. “There has been an increase in young people struggling with their mental well-being. We need to intervene early to help families and youth get the right care at the right time to experience resilience.”

In Vermont, approximately 104,000 adults and 6,000 youth ages 6 to 17 have a mental health condition, or 1 in 5 people. Nearly 1 in 20 adults lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder, or 27,000 adults. Most people living with mental illness lead full and productive lives, but only with access to treatment and community care. Fifty percent of all cases of lifelong mental illness begin at age 14 and 75% at age 24. A focus on promotion, prevention, and intervention strategies through community resources will reduce the impact of mental health conditions in Vermont.

The day will include a welcome address from state leaders including Mental Health Commissioner Emily Hawes; Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, Secretary of Human Services Jenney Samuelson; House Speaker Jill Krowinski; Ginny Lyons, Senate Health and Wellness Chair; Rep. Lori Houghton, President of House Health Care; Senator Jane Kitchel, Appropriations Chair; and Rep. Diane Lanpher, Chair of Appropriations.

The main presentation, “The Kids Are Not Okay,” will feature Alexina Federhen, Miss Vermont 2022, who will share her experiences as a teenager in Vermont battling depression and anxiety. She will talk about what she learned about brain health, holistic healing, and healthy coping mechanisms while writing her book. The way to feel better. She’ll also share insights she’s gained from visiting schools throughout Vermont over the past year.

In the afternoon, people will share powerful first-person experiences and stories. During the week, we are soliciting testimony to legislative committees.

To be a part of this important event, join us at:

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He Vermont National Alliance on Mental Illness is a 501c3, grassroots, nonprofit, statewide organization that supports, educates, and advocates so that all communities, families, and individuals affected by mental illness or mental health issues can build better lives.

He Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery is a statewide information and advocacy organization that supports all paths to recovery from addiction and mental health conditions.

Vermont Care Partners provide statewide leadership for a high-quality, integrated system of comprehensive services and supports; and represent 16 nonprofit community agencies that provide developmental, mental health, and substance abuse services to Vermonters.

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