Identify a mental health related issue that interests you.

• Identify a mental health related issue that interests you. This could be anything mental health related: treatment affordability, support for community resources, creation of community-based support services, creation of laws that prohibit discrimination, etc. • Locate a leader at the local, state, regional, or federal level who has influence in the area related to your chosen topic. For example, if you are interested in better funding for mental health services for people on Medicaid, you should find out who in the state legislature works on Medicaid services. If you are interested in the idea of more counselors in schools, you might write to the state superintendent of public schools. This person may be a politician but does not have to be. • Write a letter to the person you chose advocating for your selected issue. Include the following: o A brief introduction of who you are and why you are writing. o Discuss your issue – why is it important and why should the person you are addressing care about the it? You may want to include some statistics/data in this section. You may also include a short personal story to help support your argument. This is the part of your letter where you are trying to persuade this person to see why they should give attention to your issue. o Suggest a course of action – what would you like to see happen and how can this person help? o Closing – thank them for their time and attention and provide contact information in case they wish to speak with you further. • Letters should be no longer than two full pages in length. Keep your letter focused – you should only include one issue. Remember, leaders in these positions get a lot of feedback from community members. If you want your letter read and taken seriously you will need to get to the point quickly and make your arguments succinctly. • Be sure to use APA formatting: 12 pt. times new roman or arial font, one in margins, double-spaced paragraphs, and indent the first line of each paragraph. Use citations and references if appropriate and be sure they are correct. • Include the date, a greeting, and a closing. Remember, this is a professional letter in which you are advocating for a mental health issue. Be sure your letter looks like a professional wrote it. • Double and triple check that your spelling and grammar are correct. Have someone proofread your writing to catch any errors you may not have. Again, the more professional your letter reads, the more likely it will be to get the leader’s attention. • Do not focus too much on personal stories. A personal story can add an emotional connect to your issue; however, be sure to also back up your thoughts with facts.

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