Advocacy Basics

NAMI Dane County's ongoing advocacy work builds support for public policies to increase funding, improve access to mental health services, and support effective recovery programs for people with mental illness.

We do not provide one-on-one advocacy, case management, counseling, legal resources/services, or client advocacy. If you are seeking assistance in that area try our resources section for suggestions on how to find help.

Be an advocate for the people and causes important to you, using the most powerful tool only you have—your personal stories.
— John Capecci and Timothy Cage

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is a set of actions targeted to support a specific cause, policy, or proposal. There are two types of advocacy: systems and individual advocacy. Both are critical to furthering our advocacy priorities.


Individual Advocacy

Focuses on changing the situation for a particular individual and protecting his/her rights.

Systems Advocacy

Focuses on changing the situation for groups of individuals who share similar problems through policy. 


why is advocacy important?

Advocacy allows legislators to hear directly from their constituents about the needs of their communities and to learn more about the issues that are important to them. Hearing from those directly affected by mental illness is a crucial component of NAMI Dane County's advocacy efforts and has brought about significant changes to the Dane County mental health system over the years.


Not sure where to start? Check out the highlighted issues below and ways you can advocate. 


Youth deserve to have supportive and safe spaces in which to raise their voices on issues and policies affecting their mental health.

Jails and prisons hold disproportionate numbers of people with mental illness. We need to ensure there are jail diversion programs in place.

The lack of safe and affordable housing is one of the most powerful barriers to recovery. When this basic need isn’t met, people cycle in and out of homelessness, jails, shelters and hospitals. 

Supported employment is an important part of recovery and every person who wants to work can as long as they receive the right services and support.

Without access to reliable transportation, people with mental illness are denied the ability to lead a fulfilling life.


  1. Join the NAMI Dane County Advocacy Committee, which meets the 2nd Monday of every month from 5:30-7pm at the NAMI office.

  2. Share Your Story and ensure your voice is heard.

  3. Call or write your legislators to let them know about the issue.

  4. Raise awareness about the issue through a community event.

  5. Start a dialogue about the issue with friends, family, or co-workers.

  6. Post on social media about the issue.

  7. Host or attend a public forum.

  8. Sign up for action alerts through the NAMI Wisconsin office.