When you care for a person you can change a life. When you advocate for a people you can change a society. ARmindsMatter is built for advocacy, and we’ve gathered resources here to inform and equip you as an advocate and plug you into the state’s and the nation’s leading advocacy organizations.

To learn more about how you can actively advocate in Arkansas, download and review our Mental Health Advocacy 101 introduction here

Arkansas Advocacy Groups

NAMI Arkansas is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to help people living with mental illness, their families, and the community. NAMI Arkansas operates a statewide organization providing and coordinating a network of local support groups providing support, education, and advocacy throughout the state. The organization is affiliated with National NAMI, which is located in Arlington, VA.

For emergencies dial 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Disability Rights Arkansas (DRA) is the independent, private, nonprofit organization designated by the governor of Arkansas to implement the federally funded and authorized protection and advocacy systems throughout the state. DRA services include information and referral, short-term assistance, technical assistance, legal representation, systemic advocacy, monitoring and training. DRA services are provided free of charge. DRA is independent from state and local government.

The PAIMI program–Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness–was established in 1986 to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness and investigate reports of abuse and neglect in facilities that care for or treat individuals with mental illness. DRA assists most PAIMI-eligible individuals through providing information, education, or referral to appropriate resources.

The Treatment Advocacy Center is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating legal and other barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness. The organization promotes laws, policies and practices for the delivery of psychiatric care and supports the development of innovative treatments for and research into the causes of severe and persistent psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Here is information from the Treatment Advocacy Center regarding treatment laws in Arkansas:

In a psychiatric emergency, the more you know about your state’s laws and treatment options, the better prepared you will be to respond in the most effective way possible. These resources will help:

  • Essential information on who may initiate proceedings leading to mandatory treatment
  • State standards for emergency hospitalization for a psychiatric evaluation

Mental Health and Prison Reform

This brief cost analysis suggests diverting people with mental illness into crisis centers rather than jails could provide better mental-health care and promote public safety at a fraction of the cost of incarceration. The reforms will require new investments in our mental health care system, but those expenses will be far outweighed by the savings from the criminal justice system.

Diversion is far less expensive, more humane, more effective and safer than simply sending people with mental issues to prison. Arkansas has thousands of prisoners with mental health issues. Sending these people to treatment allows the system to focus resources on those who are true threats to society.

The report estimates the savings at close to $140 million each year, with the added benefit of reduced recidivism, reduced criminal behavior in the future, and law enforcement officials capable of focusing attention on true threats to public safety.

The report projects the costs of one year’s services at a crisis center at $10 million, compared to $150 million for incarceration. In addition, DHS estimates that Medicaid would pay between $2 to $3 Million during the next several years, leaving a net cost to Arkansas of about $7.5 Million annually to provide better, more appropriate services to people with mental illness.

The report bases its conclusions on analysis of costs and outcomes of similar programs in San Antonio, TX; Oklahoma; Georgia; New Mexico; and Oregon. It applies the savings in these states to the current costs of adjudication, incarceration, and treatment for Arkansas’ mentally ill. The report acknowledges that it is only an initial analysis of potential savings and that a deeper study is warranted.

It is clear that failing to meet the needs of people with mental illness in an appropriate setting will result in larger drains on the state budget, less humane outcomes for people with mental illness and less public safety. Visit

National Advocacy Groups

Mental Health America (MHA) – Founded in 1909, MHA has an established record of effective national and grassroots advocacy and achievement. With more than 200 affiliates in 41 states, 6,500 affiliate staff and more than 10,000 volunteers, it is a powerful voice for healthy communities throughout the nation. For more information visit Mental Health America.

Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) — DBSA envisions wellness for people who live with depression and bipolar disorder. Because DBSA was created for and is led by individuals living with mood disorders, its vision, mission, and programming are always informed by the personal, lived experiences of peers. Through more than 700 support groups and nearly 300 chapters, DBSA reaches millions of people each year. For more information visit DBSA.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) — NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and volunteer leaders who work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs. For more information visit NAMI.

Active Minds – Active Minds empowers students to change the perception about mental health on college campuses. Active Minds supports a network of campus- based chapters across the United States and Canada that are made up of students passionate about mental health advocacy and education. Learn more at Active Minds.

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) – SARDAA improves lives affected by schizophrenia-related brain illnesses.SARDAA promotes hope and recovery through support programs, education, collaboration and advocacy. Learn more at SARDAA.