Mr. Riggs Goes To Washington for Mental Health Reform!

Taking Advocacy to a whole new level.

June 6, 2019

Holy moly.  Can you freaking believe that it’s JUNE already!?  Where the heck did MAY go?

We did have a few things going on…if you haven’t heard, just google “Break From Drake Milwaukee” and the search results will speak for themselves.  Hey we went viral!  Like, for real Viral! 

I digress…

Now that the month of May is in our rearview, I thought I would reflect and expound on my first blog I wrote at the beginning of the month. 


RELATED: 5 ways to start a conversation about Mental Health


May was mental health awareness month.  Mental health is something that became near and dear to me after I lost my Uncle to suicide in July of 2017.  Fast Forward a year later, and I lost two friends within a month of one another.  Completely unrelated – but also completely out of the blue, much like my Uncle.  I decided then and there I would start dedicating more time to mental health – especially MEN and their mental health.  Because let’s be honest, men are the WORST at dealing with their feelings.



Every day last month, I took a moment to break the stigma and just have a bunch of #RealConvo type discussions.



I spoke about suicide prevention…


Eating Disorders…

There were more, too…Anxiety, PTSD, asking for help, how to be a good listener, Social media and mental health, Veteran mental health, LGBTQ suicide prevention, Self help, and more!  You can watch the IG highlights here >>  Mental Health Awareness IG Highlights <<

So having a voice on social media is one thing, raising awareness here in Milwaukee and Wisconsin is another thing…but this weekend, I’ve got the opportunity to take it to another level.  The opportunity to travel to Washington DC and use my voice to speak to our leaders on Capitol Hill!  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is having their annual advocacy forum June 9-12.  I’ll be there on the frontlines. 

What kind of issues and topics are we discussing?  I’m glad you asked. 

It’s a long list – but mostly making access to mental health care easier to EVERYONE.  Also making sure we continue to raise awareness about suicide prevention.   You know what?  I’ll just show you the list of objectives we will make sure to address with our legislators. 

Bear with me - it's a lot, and I quite literally copied and pasted...


  • Increase federal funding for suicide prevention research at the National Institute of Mental Health
  • Increase funding for crisis intervention centers to expand their infrastructure to handle growing call volume, convert the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) to three-digits, and facilitate the inclusion of the existing Crisis Text Line (741-741) network into future crisis intervention planning
  • Provide the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) with enhanced funding to facilitate improvements in training and infrastructure
  • Maintain suicide prevention with Service members, Veterans, and their families as a national priority
  • Ensure Mental Health Parity laws and regulations are uniformly implemented
  • Preserve coverage of pre-existing conditions, preventative health services, and no annual or lifetime caps while maintaining mental health and substance use coverage as an essential health care benefit
  • Preserve and increase Medicaid and Medicare funding for mental health services


  • Support comprehensive K-12 school suicide prevention legislation and policies, including mandated training for school personnel and mandated policies on suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention
  • Increase funding for, and assist in the implementation and evaluation of state suicide prevention initiatives and plans to prevent suicide across the lifespan
  • Increase the number of health professionals who receive regular, evidence-informed education and training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management
  • Ensure uniform implementation of federal Mental Health Parity laws and regulations through reporting and oversight, and strengthen parity provisions within state laws


Issues on which AFSP will work as part of a coalition or group, providing active support to achieve these important policy objectives:


  • Support the review, reform, and evaluation of mental health standards, policies and service delivery, as well as programs like Mental Health First Aid
  • Expand mental health professional services through a federal loan repayment program to relieve workforce shortages
  • Support funding for suicide prevention authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act, including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) program and adult suicide prevention program
  • Increase funding to address the opioid epidemic and other substance use and alcohol disorders through research, education, prevention, and treatment
  • Promote policies and programs to improve access to mental health care and prevent suicide in correctional facilities
  • Increase funding for American Indian and Alaskan Native youth suicide prevention and education programs
  • Promote policies to prevent LGBTQ+ suicide, including integrating LGBTQ+ populations into existing data collection tools on suicide mortality and safe schools indicators
  • Support the construction of barriers to prevent suicide from bridges and other jumping sites
  • Authorize and appropriate funds for bullying prevention programs and projects
  • Authorize and appropriate funds for Depression Centers of Excellence
  • Support workplace policies and programs that promote mental health and prevent suicidal behavior among employees


  • Support higher education legislation and policies that give college and university students, faculty, and staff the knowledge and tools to prevent suicide
  • Increase and sustain adequate state funding for crisis lines and crisis services
  • Support state implementation of the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
  • Increase funding to address the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders
  • Support use of risk-based firearm removal laws (e.g., extreme risk protection orders, gun violence restraining orders, and related court orders) when voluntary removal is unsuccessful or impossible and suicide risk is imminent
  • Support the construction of barriers to prevent suicide from bridges and other jumping sites
  • Promote policies and programs to improve access to mental health care and prevent suicide in correctional facilities
  • Oppose the use of conversion therapy or sexual orientation change counseling as treatment for LGBTQ+ individuals
  • Support loan forgiveness and related programs to expand the behavioral healthcare workforce and address provider shortages in underserved areas
  • Support workplace policies and programs that promote mental health and prevent suicidal behavior among employees


Issues related to AFSP’s mission that will advance public understanding of suicide prevention:


  • Assist in the creation of a national brain tissue donor bank and amend existing state laws to include brain tissue within existing organ donation policies and procedures
  • Support bullying prevention legislation, policies, and programs, and promote safe messaging around bullying and suicide
  • Support the funding and dissemination of Mental Health First Aid programs


Issues that require further exploration or policy research and analysis, but have not yet become AFSP policy proposals:


Now it makes sense why we have SO many advocates on the street making sure these important issues are heard by our lawmakers so that EVERYONE can have what they need to help their own personal mental health, and one day live in a world where suicide is no longer an issue. 


Needless to say, we’ll be pretty busy.  I’ll be  posting live updates on my personal blog, so if you’re reading this – chances are you’re welling to go a little further and follow along on my social media (@RiggsRadio on IG/FB/Snap)…as well as some updates on my blog as I mentioned – --

I’m back on the show on Thursday morning, I’ll update you and report back when I return. 

Talk to you in the morning,