National Dialogue on Mental Health

Promotional banner for the dialogue on mental health in Albuquerque, NMMental illness affects nearly all American families, and addressing this issue is vital to promoting the health of our communities. To lift the silence and raise awareness about mental health, President Obama has called for an honest, national conversation about mental health.

After the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn., President Obama called for a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health.

Everyday Democracy has worked with some key partners to help ensure that our community plays an important role in this effort.  Our team, led by the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona, launched Creating Community Solutions as part of this effort.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for us -- the dialogue and deliberation community -- to not only make an impact on a critically important public issue, but to demonstrate to people and groups we usually can't reach that there is a better way to engage communities on complex issues.  This is also a unique learning opportunity for Everyday Democracy, and for all of us, to see what we can accomplish when we combine our forces and our know-how.

Conversations have taken place in 300 communities and counting, including six lead communities that kicked off the initiative. Text, Talk, Act has engaged an additional 26,000 young people and others. Participants have come from diverse racial, ethnic, socio-economic and age backgrounds.

This initiative has gained recognition for our work in bringing people to the table for the national dialogue on mental health and received the International Association of Public Participation's USA Project of the Year Core Value Award. Creating Community Solutions has also been named one of nine finalists for the Ash Award for Innovations in American Government and one of the four finalists for the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations in Public Engagement in Government Award.


As part of the initiative, Everyday Democracy has contributed to the National Dialogue on Mental Health in several areas:

Developing resource materials

Cover of the Community Conversations About Mental Health Discussion GuideEveryday Democracy contributed to the the Discussion Guide and Planning Guide, part of the toolkit developed by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration), for use in convening a community conversation on mental health. Visit Creating Community Solutions to download the Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health.

To download or order free copies of the Toolkit, visit the SAMHSA store:


Convening dialogues on mental health in Albuquerque, NM

Three women smilingMayor Richard J. Berry hosted one of the first dialogues as part of this initiative in Albuquerque, N.M. On July 20, 2013, over three hundred residents came together for the “Creating Community Solutions – Albuquerque” dialogue to move beyond stereotypes and negative attitudes and toward solutions that improve mental health and mental health systems.


A man and a woman sitting at a table listening to a conversationAction ideas stemming from the conversations include creating a media campaign to raise awareness about issues and resources, having more mental health providers at places accessible to youth, and leveraging partnerships to reduce fragmentation between providers.

Albuquerque created an impressive collaboration of support for this conversation and has engaged 500 additional people in six neighborhood forums. A steering committee has led the effort, along with Everyday Democracy and New Mexico-based Everyday Democracy representatives Everette Hill and Eduardo Martinez.

Read more about Creating Community Solutions - Albuquerque.

See more photos from the dialogue on July 20.


Providing communications support

Group of high school students holding up their phones as part of the Text, Talk, Act pilotEveryday Democracy's communication team is part of the Creating Community Solutions communications sub-committee. We have provided input for the design and marketing of the Creating Community Solutions website and for the Text, Talk, and Act initiative. In addition, we provide ongoing support to the dialogue efforts in Albuquerque, N.M., by developing communications materials for the dialogues.


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Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.