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

This fall was an exciting time for the IOCDF’s Public Policy Advocacy Program! Although we were unable to meet in Washington, DC for the annual Capital Walk, we hosted our first-ever “Hill Day” event on October 12th and 13th.

Virtual Voices for Mental Health: An Online Day of Action was a virtual event that brought together over 100 advocates from the OCD and related disorders community. Participants were invited to attend a rally and training, and then took part in an email campaign where they urged members of Congress to pass critical mental health legislation. Participants advocated for bills that would:

●        Expand access to teletherapy and address disparities

●        Create parity in insurance coverage for mental health services, regardless of whether they are delivered via telehealth or in person

●        Permanently extend the COVID-19-related expansions of telehealth by the Indian Health Service and Medicare

●        Establish a loan repayment program for mental health clinicians who practice in areas with critical shortages of mental health clinicians

●        Expand Medicare’s mental health coverage to include mental health counselors, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists

The advocates who took part in the Day of Action represented 28 states, and sent over 300 messages to 114 members of Congress! We are incredibly grateful to those who took time to participate, raise the profile of important legislation, and make their voices and personal stories heard. If you would like to learn more about this event, or sign up to hear about future advocacy events, please visit iocdf.org/advocacy.

Other advocacy news and updates:

  • The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in October. This law establishes 988 as the universal telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This step builds upon action taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year. The IOCDF was among a group of mental health organizations urging the FCC and Congress to make this change. The new number is expected to go into operation in 2022, and until then, 1 (800) 273-TALK remains the telephone number for the suicide lifeline.

●        The IOCDF expressed support for H.R. 4996, the Helping MOMS Act of 2020, to members of leadership in the U.S. Senate. This bill was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, and would help states expand their Medicaid coverage for postpartum care to 12 months after delivery (currently this coverage only extends 60 days after delivery). If passed by the Senate and signed into law, this bill would increase access to postpartum mental health care, including treatment for postpartum OCD, for millions of new mothers nationwide.

To get up-to-date information about the latest IOCDF Public Policy Advocacy program activities, please visit iocdf.org/advocacy.

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