Letter: Make yourself heard
I attended a NAMI advocacy training recently and wanted to share some information about how to advocate for a cause in which you believe. The first thing to remember is that our legislators are people just like you and me, only they serve the residents of some New Hampshire town. To find your state representative, go to gencourt.state.nh.us, look for “Find Your Representatives” under the “House of Representatives” dashboard, and then enter your town. You can also track bills through this same website under “Find a Bill.”
Here are some tips for contacting your representative by letter, phone or in person. First, introduce yourself and talk about something that personally affects you and why it is important. Share details about your experience and challenges. Stories should be short, not more than one or two minutes. A written letter should be kept to a page in length. Keep it simple and tell your legislators what you want them to do: “I want you to support this bill” or “Before you make your decision, could you look at these facts?” Always thank the representative for their time and avoid becoming defensive if at first you do not feel heard. Remember, it is about building a relationship through mutual respect.
Five contacts really bring an issue into the legislator’s awareness. That gives us considerable power to influence what happens in our state. Whether your personal issue is mental health, education or the environment, we all have something to contribute to the discussion. We should use our voice so our legislators can make informed decisions based on what their constituents want.