Is this election your first time voting?

Voting helps in deciding who makes decisions that can impact your life and your future. Voting also impacts people with mental health conditions since many policy issues directly relate or intersect with mental health. Your #Vote4MentalHealth can make an impact beyond the ballot box.

Your first time voting can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick checklist to help get you ready to #Vote4MentalHealth:

▢ Are you registered to vote? In order to vote, you have to register to vote! It is important to register before your state’s deadlines, as many states do not allow same day registration. Register to vote, check your registration, or find your state’s registration deadline.

▢ Do you know where your polling place is? When you register to vote, you’re assigned a location to vote in-person based on your address. Find your polling place. Additionally, in some states, elections are conducted by safe and secure mail ballots. If you’re unable to vote in-person, there may be options available for early or absentee voting. Learn more about early and absentee voting options and see what is allowed in your state.

▢ Did you check what is on your ballot? See what’s on your ballot. You may bring a filled-in or printed voter guide into the voting booth.

▢ Do you need your ID to vote? Some states require voters to show government-issued identification to cast their ballot. Check if you need an ID to vote in your state.

▢ Do you know the impact of voting for people affected by mental health conditions? #Vote4MentalHealth is more than voting for a single policy issue. It is about understanding how issues intersect with mental health.

▢ Share on social media that you will #Vote4MentalHealth. Show your friends, family, and followers that you voted/plan to vote. This can encourage others to vote and show the importance voting has on mental health. Find sample social media posts and graphics.

Have doubts? Let’s debunk three common misconceptions about voting.

“I don’t like any of the candidates”

Regardless of your views on the candidates, it’s hard to understate the impact you can have by voting. Maybe you don’t like the Presidential candidates — that’s okay, your state and local elections are very important. Your local elections often impact your day-to-day life more than the president does. State and local policymakers can determine if the snow gets plowed, the hiring and pay for public school teachers, mental health services available in your community and so much more. These are your mayors, local judges, school boards, town or city council, county commissioner, and state legislators, to name a few. You can find who is running in your local elections here.

“My vote won’t make a difference”

Many elected officials have won by extremely small margins. Sometimes in local races one vote can elect a winner. Your vote can have a huge impact on mental health care because our elected officials make decisions that affect the future of mental health care. This is why it is important to know where your candidates stand on mental health and key issues that intersect with it. We encourage you to research independently and reach out to your candidates to find out where they stand on issues surrounding mental health.

“There is no way my one vote can make any change for mental health”

Your vote can make a difference especially as it relates to mental health. For example, your elected officials will make decisions that determine if there are trained mental health professionals and peers to respond to mental health crises. As we discussed above, every vote counts, especially in your state and local elections. Learning where your candidates stand important issues and then going to cast your ballot to have your voice heard are crucial steps to #Vote4MentalHealth.