Make a call
At times it is necessary to reach a decision-maker quickly, particularly if they are about to make an important decision or if an urgent issue has come up that requires immediate action. That’s the time to make a telephone call. You may not be able to speak directly to the decision-maker, but if the issue is urgent, your call will often have an impact.
If you are calling a political representative (MP, MPP, city councillor), be sure to tell them where you live. This identifies you as their constituent, which means that they are in government to represent you. They are interested in hearing from their constituents.
What to Say
Always limit your telephone call to one subject. Be brief and be specific. Let the decision-maker or the staff person you are speaking to know why you’re calling, stating the action you would like the decision-maker to take on the issue, and asking where the decision-maker stands on the issue.
Regardless of where the decision-maker stands on an issue, be courteous. If the decision-maker does not support your issue, let him or her know you’re disappointed. If the office does not know officially where the decision-maker stands on the issue, be sure to ask for a written response.
Send a letter
If you are concerned about a mental health issue that is happening in an organization you are familiar with, in your local community, or in the province, send a letter to those in charge. If it’s a local issue, it may be effective to also send your letter to the local newspaper.
You might write to the school principal about bullying in your child’s school, to the mayor about city council’s decision regarding a homelessness initiative, to the board chair of your Local Health Integration Network about the LHIN plans for mental health services, or to the director of a local recreation centre about the centre’s refusal to provide space in a recreation centre for a peer support group to meet.
You may also choose to send a letter to your MPP rather than asking for a meeting. As a constituent, your MPP knows that you are the key to their understanding of issues important to you, not to mention their political future. They want and need to hear from you on issues you consider important. Writing a letter lets the MPP know you care about an issue and that you’ll watch his or her choices carefully. While written letters have a personal impact and are easily the most powerful way to communicate with MPPs outside of a personal visit, they can also take the longest to reach an MPP.
What to Write
Keep your letter to one page, one issue, and state its purpose in the first paragraph. Stick to the point with just enough facts to enhance your statement. Explain how the mental health issue you are writing about affects you and what you would like the decision-maker to do. Be courteous, even if you disagree with the decision-maker’s position. Always close your letter by asking for a written response. You may choose to deliver your letter through e-mail, fax, mail or in person.