Mental Health Policy


Mental Health Policy

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  • Traditional research paper
    1. Pick a policy topic, review the literature and write a paper (approximately 14-20 pages double-spaced) that includes the following:
      1. Origins of the policy issue (ie historical problems and factors contributing to it; history of policy making about it)
      2. Current state of the policy issue in question, including
        1. Problems
        2. Benefits
        3. And differential impacts on minoritized subgroups (LGBTQ, racial/ethnic, refugees and immigrants, etc.)
  • Relationship between the policy issue and social work/social workers
    1. Any relevant NASW policy statements
    2. Ways in which social work/social workers are involved
  1. Broader impacts of the policy (as applicable)
    1. For example, 1996 welfare reforms were meant to limit access to benefits among working age adults otherwise able to work but ultimately led to a substantial increase in working age adults instead seeking benefits on the basis of disability
  2. Where you fall/your reflections and perspective
  3. Conclusion
  • Policy Paper Option: Advocacy Campaign and Toolbox (approximately 12-18 pages total, double-spaced) The goals of the toolbox are to introduce your policy and explain its significance, to articulate an advocacy goal relevant to the policy and strategy for achieving that goal (i.e., advocacy plan), and to provide materials that can be used to enact your strategy (i.e., tools). Each toolbox must contain the following:
    1. An introduction and background section that addresses the following questions (4-6 pages):
      1. What is the problem the policy seeks to address?
      2. What is the policy? What are its aims? How does it achieve those aims (i.e., what does it do?)?
  • What existing policy does the policy build on? What is the policy’s history and where does it currently stand?
  1. Who are the policy’s stakeholders? What are their interests? Who supports the policy and why do they support it? Who is against the policy and why are they against it?
  2. Is the policy likely to enhance mental health and wellbeing? Why or why not (describe the research bases)? Does it align with social work values and ethics (speak specifically to the Code of Ethics)? Why or why not?
  3. What legislative decision(s) should be made about this policy in order to enhance mental health and wellbeing, and align with social work values and ethics?
  1. An advocacy plan that includes the following (1-3 pages):
    1. A statement of the policy advocacy goal (outcome) and objectives (process) the campaign will meet to achieve that goal
    2. A step-by-step plan for meeting objectives and achieving the goal (i.e., your strategy), including an overview of the tools that your campaign uses to achieve this aim
  • A description of how you will assess the effectiveness of your campaign, measuring both objectives and goal achievement
  1. Tools (pick at least two of the following):
    1. A fact sheet about the policy and the problem it addresses
    2. A power map
  • A template letter to legislators
  1. A sample script/dialogue for discussing the policy with constituents
  2. Any other policy advocacy tools that you think would advance your campaign

Activist Project Option

    1. Pick a policy topic for which it would be possible for you to undertake a small-scale policy-change project. This could be within the School of Social Work, at Pitt, or in your field placement, workplace, a volunteer site or the Pittsburgh community.
    2. Execute the project. Some examples include the following:
      1. Survey or interview Pitt students about their perspectives on disability accommodations [or another mental health related issue] and then synthesize or analyze this data to present to administrative leadership. (Document their response.)
      2. Organize a lecture or event to raise awareness of or challenge status quo thinking relevant to a particular issue. (And survey those who attend to gain some insight into its impact.)
  • Develop a presentation on a particular area for your employer—eg changing policy related to police involvement in crisis response or transport. Present to agency leadership or supervisor(s).  Document their response.
  1. Write a well-developed open letter (to Pitt, to an employer, etc.) that expresses concerns about a particular issue, gather signatures, and present to the target decision maker(s). Document any response.
  2. Be creative! This is not an exhaustive list, just some possibilities.
  1. Write up the project, including the following (approximately 8-14 pages double-spaced)
    1. Motivation and rationale (drawing on personal experiences, peer experiences, observation and/or academic or published sources): why did you pick the issue you chose, what are the current problems, why do things need to change
    2. Describe what you did and why (the approach—specific activity—you undertook and why that made the most sense)
  • Describe the response (this could include administrators not responding, or not responding in a meaningful way)
  1. Describe any possible next steps
  2. Describe what you learned by doing the project

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