Policy & Advocacy

U S Capitol
What do we advocate?

Founded in 1923, the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice advocates for policies, practices and research aimed at preventing behavioral health disorders and promoting conditions to ensure that people with disorders can be full participants in society.  

How do we advocate?


To that end, we collaborate with individuals and organizations representing a breadth of viewpoints and perspectives that transcend any single discipline or orientation to focus attention on the needs and rights of people with little voice in society.  

The Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG), based in Washington, DC, is a coalition of national organizations representing consumers, family members, advocates, professionals and providers on mental health issues.  MHLG provides its members with an opportunity to exchange information, cooperate in advocacy efforts, coordinate strategies and discuss public policy issues related to mental health.  As an active member of the Health Policy Committee, we work with the Committee to develop positions on such issues as health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid, parity, managed care, and Medical Records privacy.  We have signed letters on topics ranging from equity in Medicare to mental health in schools and mental health reform.  

In 2013, we joined the Prevention Committee, which subsequently became the  National Prevention Science Coalition for Improving Lives (NPSC). The coalition seeks NPSC logoto apply scientific findings toward wide-scale implementation of effective prevention practices and policies.  In doing so, NPSC addresses several areas of concern, such as mental and behavioral health, education, juvenile and criminal justice, environmental influences, and physical health. Our work with NPSC has included participating in Congressional Briefings, providing prevention research on a variety of topics to congressional offices, and collaborating with other researchers and practitioners to increase knowledge about topics such as human trafficking, child welfare, and juvenile justice. Learn more about our partnership with NPSC by reading an interview with our Executive Officer.

The Global Alliance is also a sponsor of the Forum on Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health (C-CAB), which was established as an outgrowth of the 2009 National Research Council-Institute of Medicine National Academy logoreport Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. The report concluded with a call to make the prevention of cognitive, affective, and behavioral disorders and the promotion of mental health of young people a high priority. The forum engages in dialogue and discussion to connect the prevention, treatment, and implementation sciences with settings where children are seen and cared for, including health care settings, schools, social service and child welfare agencies, and the juvenile justice system, and to create systems that are effective and affordable in addressing children’s needs. The Global Alliance's past-president, Donald Wertlieb, and current president, Debbie Klein-Walker, represent the organization on the Forum. More information about our sponsorship can be found on our Children's Behavioral Health page, located under Topics and Issues.

In 2017, we became a member of the Coalition for Whole Health.  The Coalition brings together advocates from the mentalCoalition for Whole Health health and substance use disorder fields to maximize inclusion and coverage of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery services in the implementation of health care reform.  Founded in June 2010, the coalition is jointly led by Ron Manderscheid of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and Paul Samuels of the Legal Action Center.  

At the recommendation of our Global Mental Health Task Force, we joined the Movement for Global MGMHMental Health (MGMH), a network of individuals and organizations that aim to improve services for people living with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries where effective services are often scarce. The Movement is guided by two fundamental principles: scientific evidence and human rights.


Our resolutions provide a concise overview of our stance on a particular policy concern, resources for more information on the topic, ways that our members can get involved in addressing the issue, and background research from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

Resolution on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 
Resolution on Families Crossing Borders
Resolution on Protections for Transgender Students

Resolution on Protecting Immigrant Children and Families
Resolution on Health Care
Resolution on Global Mental Health
Resolution on Tough-on-Crime Policies
Resolution on Health Care and Re-entry After Incarceration
Resolution on the Prevention of Child Trafficking
Resolution on the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Resolution on Racism
Principles of Health Care Reform

Policy Briefs

We recently began work on what will be a series of policy briefs on topics relevant to our task forces and current events.

Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System

Position Statements

Our position statements guide our policy and advocacy work. In the last 3 years, our statements have emphasized immigration, group care of children and adolescents, family homelessness, schools and juvenile shackling.    

The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Children and Families
Consensus Statement on Group Care for Children and Adolescents
Family Homelessness: Mental Health Needs of Children and Families
Safe and Humane Schools: Places of Community
Safe and Humane Schools: Violence Prevention
Shackling Children in Court: Implications for Adolescent Development 

Task Forces

We organize task forces and study groups on issues of grave concern to the Alliance.  Members are researchers, clinicians, practitioners, students and policy experts with expertise on the topic.  We welcome individuals at various stages in their careers, from across disciplines, and who who work in a variety of settings.  

We currently are sponsoring three task forces:

Mass Incarceration 

The Global Alliance formed a task force on incarceration in 2015 to address challenges related to mass incarceration. In particular, the task force is working on a white paper that will provide policy and practice recommendations related to the reentry of former prisoners into communities. 

Human Trafficking

Our human trafficking task force is focusing on the prevention of trafficking of children and youth. Members of the task force presented on the development of a child trafficking prevention framework at the 2017 Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking. The task force also represented the Global Alliance at a Congressional Briefing on human trafficking prevention in November 2017.

Global Mental Health 

As a global organization that recognizes a threat to injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, our global mental health task seeks to draw attention to disparities found throughout the world in mental health services and the too frequent violation of the rights of individuals with mental health concerns.

In the past, we have sponsored task forces on the Rights and Mental Health of Immigrants, Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Displaced Persons; Children's Rights to Protection of Important Family Relationships; Mental Health and Human Rights; Family Homelessness; Intimate Partner Violence, and Schools as Places of Community.     

Congressional Briefings 

We are committed to applying principles of social justice to policy development. To that end, we have worked with our partners to sponsor and participate in Congressional Briefings. Recent topics discussed include human trafficking prevention, the opioid epidemic, and strategies for facilitating evidence-based policy.  


Listen to our podcasts.


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