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This post was originally published in the Fall 2020 edition of the OCD Newsletter.

As the summer comes to an end and the air starts to take on a pleasant chill, the IOCDF staff typically find themselves preparing to travel down to Washington, DC to kick off OCD Awareness Week with our annual Capital Walk. Like many traditions, this one has also been disrupted by COVID-19, and we won’t be able to gather in person this year like we want to. With that bad news out of the way, here is something good to look forward to: this year we are transforming the Capital Walk into a virtual advocacy event!

On October 12th and 13th, we will join each other from the comfort of our own living rooms for Virtual Voices For Mental Health: An Online Day of Action. On Monday, October 12th, we will hold an evening of live virtual programming that will prepare you to be an effective advocate for key mental health legislation. The next day, you will take action by contacting your elected representatives and making your voice heard. This event is open to people with OCD and related disorders, their families, friends, clinicians, and all other members of the mental health community. To register, please visit iocdf.org/advocacy!

Advocacy updates:

●        This spring, we updated you on our efforts to advance a number of our key suicide prevention priorities. We know from research that people with OCD, BDD, and hoarding disorder are at increased risk of dying by suicide, and we are committed to supporting public policy that will save lives. The FCC recently took steps to create a national, three-digit phone number (9-8-8) that will connect callers answer in the US with a local suicide prevention hotline service. The IOCDF applauds the FCC for their leadership on this issue!

●        In our previous Advocacy Corner, we took a deep dive into the mental health response to COVID-19 and legislation that the IOCDF was supporting. We have continued to advocate for legislation that will better meet the needs of Americans during this time:

○        We went on the record with other mental health organizations as supporting S3792, Telemental Health Improvement Act of 2020, which would introduce new requirements for commercial insurers to cover mental health services delivered remotely

○        We urged congressional leadership to pass the Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act of 2020, which would establish a grant program for organizations providing on-the-ground, community-level response to mental health and substance use needs generated by COVID-19

○        We asked house leadership to advance the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020 (HR 7663), which would make many of the positive changes that have been made to Medicare’s telehealth rules permanent, including: elimination of restrictions on where the patient must be located to receive telehealth services; allowing patients to receive telehealth services in their homes; and expanding the ability of federally qualified health centers and rural health centers to deliver telehealth services to medicare beneficiaries

○        We also expressed our support for the FRONTIER Community Act, which would  expand access to telehealth services in rural areas and address the broadband infrastructure needs of rural communities, a necessity for effective and reliable telehealth services

While we remain in uncertain times, we are optimistic about many of the positive changes that are being proposed in Congress, and look forward to seeing many of you for Virtual Voices for Mental Health on October 12th and 13th! 

If you would like to learn more about the Policy Advocacy Program, or sign up to receive more information, please visit iocdf.org/advocacy.

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