The Mental Health Justice Group went to Springfield with Mercy Housing at the end of May to push for full funding of the Mental Health Budget, $28.5 Million for Supportive Housing, and for the Expansion of Medicaid through SB26. We are happy to report that we were very successful in our efforts! The following reflection was written by Olamide, a member of the Mental Health Justice Group. It was Olamide’s first trip to Springfield.
The day kicked off at 5:00 AM at the ONE office in Uptown. All of us gathered together and discussed our motivation for participating in the trip. For some, it was out of a personal need to see changes with issues surrounding mental health. For others, it was sheer curiosity of the legislative process. Whatever the individual motivator, each person left the trip with much in the way of food-for-thought.
Once the group, including members from throughout the city with Mercy Housing, arrived in Springfield, we were broken up into small groups tasked with speaking to legislators about various issues. The issues included Medicaid expansion, Ceasefire funding, supportive housing for people living with mental illness, and many more. At times, the groups spoke to legislators in pre-arranged meetings. Other times, the groups simply caught up with representatives in the halls and discussed the issues. At other times, reps were not to be found.
At around 1:30 PM, our time in Springfield had drawn to a close. The ride home was filled with discussion about the trip. Some questioned the bills that had been passed that day, citing a need for constituents to be more attentive to the legislative process. Still others expressed satisfaction that they had gotten involved.