By: Aubrey Boggs CMWN Intern

Those of us living with mental health conditions know how often our lived experience is left out of mental health conversations and legislation. To me, it feels dis-empowering to know decisions about my care and my rights are being made without my input. On the opposite end, it is very empowering to use my voice in unexpected places. I have made a pact with myself to use opportunities to speak about my experience whenever I can, unless it infringes on my self-care or safety. I often find myself pleasantly surprised at how willing many people are to have those conversations with me. This has also made me think more deeply about right to vote. This is why voting matters so deeply to me, it is the one sure way I can make my voice heard.

I want to be involved in this process because it is my right as a citizen. I vote because my voice, the voice of a person with mental health conditions, matters in this election. It matters during the legislative session, during midterm elections, during city council meetings, and it matters in all political situations. I have a voice, and it matters.

Your voice and your vote matter. The presidential election may seem like the only thing happening this election. Don’t forget that you can have a voice in your city, in your state, and in your country.

As Justin Dart, the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act, said, “Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.” Our voices, the voices of lived experience, deserve to be heard in this election.

3d rendering of a badge for the 2008 presidential election

More information on voting in Colorado: http://www.justvotecolorado.org

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Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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