Voting and Mental Health
Our ability to shape decisions that impact our daily lives, via voting and civic engagement, has immense implications for our collective mental health and emotional wellbeing. As we begin to look ahead to the fall, a time of transition for many people with work, school, and moving, it’s easy to forget that we are also heading into election season. Why does voting matter when it comes to mental health? For starters, every policy decision on topics ranging from zoning and permits to affordable housing to public health protocols around COVID are determined by local elected officials - people who represent us as constituents. Voting is one of the most significant tools in our toolbox to advocate for change, both close to home and at the federal level. In addition, funding for mental health and substance use services routinely comes up and is shaped by our local and state legislators, so calling or emailing in support of particular measures has a tangible impact. Last but not least, making use of your right to vote to advocate for issues that you care about in your community can be incredibly empowering and increase your sense of connectedness and general wellbeing.
Here are some quick tips to learn more, get involved, and stay engaged:
Not sure if you’re registered to vote, or where to cast your ballot? You can verify your voter registration status in Massachusetts here and find your polling place here - both of these are important to do, especially if you moved or changed addresses recently.
There are a number of important dates coming up for elections in Somerville (also for Boston, Cambridge, Medford, etc.). If you live elsewhere in Massachusetts, check with your city/town’s election commission office to see which positions are open, who the candidates are, and deadlines to register to vote.
For Somerville, Wednesday, August 25 at 8pm is the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming preliminary election on September 14.
Wednesday, Sept. 14 = preliminary election
Wednesday, October 13 = last day to register to vote or change address for November 2 election
Tuesday, November 2 = election
If you want to get involved with upcoming elections, consider becoming a poll worker for the September/November elections (paid opportunity), or volunteering with a local or national organization like MassVOTE, Election Protection, or the ACLU of Massachusetts.
Other ways to plug in: canvass for a local candidate, do text or phone banking for Massachusetts voters or voters in other states, volunteer to be a poll monitor or social media monitor, or contact a local official like your city councilor or state legislator to discuss an issue you care about!
Jen Brown, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been in clinical practice since 2014. She received her MSW and Certificate in Urban Leadership in clinical social work from Simmons University School of Social Work. She has worked in outpatient mental health and integrative settings in community health centers, college mental health, and in affordable housing. Jen has experience working with depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, substance use and addiction, ADHD, identity shifts/adjustment issues, chronic illness, body image concerns, and relationship issues.
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