After decades without thoughtful consideration and long-term planning that resulted in a public behavioral health system consistently ranked among the lowest in the nation, mental health is finally receiving attention in Georgia's General Assemby.
The next few legislative sesssions may decide the future of behavioral health in Georgia for decades to come. With the passage of Georgia's Mental Health Parity Act, Georgia now stands poised to make sweeping changes to who receives which services, and when, where, and how they are received--including peer support.
We know from the elimination of funding for the Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Center of Henry County in 2020 that we cannot rely on others to advocate for us at the Capitol, and that simply because something is here in our communities, and loved, and helpful to many, and cost effective, it may still be eliminated when legislators do not hear our voices.
The Georgia Peer Policy Collective is being established to serve multiple functions necessitated by the scope and scale of the Mental Health Parity Act. The group will include at least one representative and/or alternate from each of Georgia's six regions, who will not be expected to participate in any direct advocacy activities. Their role will be to get knee deep in Georgia’s mental health legislative issues and act as conduits of information back and forth from their communities to those of us who are in direct contact with legislators.
They will also be charged with identifying the principles and values that should be honored and upheld by any individual or organizaiton self-identifying as an "ally" of Georgia's mental health recovery community.