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Our Commitment to Social Change

At the National Federation of Families, we believe that we must rediscover our capacity for lifting up all members of our society, no matter their lived experiences, challenges, or personal traumas. By focusing on peoples’ potential – rather than their differences – we can begin to build stronger and more inclusive neighborhoods. We believe that true equity is the result of vibrant communities and responsive systems that promote self-reliance and interdependence and that celebrate diversity.

Adapted from Adler University (2023)

What Do We Mean by Social Justice?

What is social justice? What does working toward social justice mean for individuals, communities, and systems?  The foundation of social justice is living the “golden rule,” treating others the way would like to be treated – at every level. As individuals, social justice means accepting each person for who they are – celebrating and embracing the diversity of our fellow man. It means accepting every member of our communities – welcoming their participation and contributions in all groups. At the system level, it means accepting that each person has their own unique strengths and goals – shaping supports and resources to be responsive to each person’s dreams.


In essence social justice means:

  • Equity at every level of society

  • Ensuring that all members of our society are physically and psychologically safe and secure

  • Giving every person the opportunity to live up to their full potential

  • Supporting one another to live meaningful, purposeful lives


We believe the path to social justice lies in person-centered support every step of the way – in our interactions as individuals, the opportunities provided within communities, and in the approach and design of the systems put in place. We must see, hear, and accept each person for who and where they are and treat them with dignity and respect in order to lift them up as members of our society. Only through acceptance, advocacy, and action can we move toward social justice for families whose children – of any age – experience mental health and/or substance use challenges and impact social change.

We invite you to watch these two videos below, explore the tools also shared below, and encourage you to visit this page periodically for updates.

Video clip taken from the National Federation of Families 2023 National Conference Social Justice Plenary Panel.

NFF Video on Social Justice in Mental Health and Substance Use

Promoting Social Justice for Families

Social Media Presence

Most people and organizations have a presence on social media today. Use our social justice frame on your channels to promote social justice for families or simply to spark questions and dialogue with those who follow you about what it means and why you are promoting it. Access the frame to personalize and use it here.

Educate Your Community

Use graphics like these, provided in English and Spanish by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to introduce the concept of equality vs. equity in your own communities and the systems you collaborate with. Help others understand the importance of meeting the needs of all people and that one size does NOT fit all.

Share Your Lived Experience

Reflect on the following questions in your own life:

  • What lived experience do you have that can help you promote social justice?

  • What inequities have you seen and/or experienced that need to be brought to light and who needs to know about them?

  • What solutions can you promote with decision-makers and advocates?

  • What opportunities do you have to promote equity in your community?

Visit our YouTube playlist to hear inspirational speakers share their stories. We believe using tools like the graphics above in concert with sharing your lived experiences are a powerful way to promote the importance of acceptance and social justice for all families and their children. Challenge yourself to spread these messages to those you live and work with.

Become a Social Justice Ally

Becoming a strong ally of social justice requires self-reflection, learning, and the willingness to grow. This work begins at home. Use these social inclusion/justice activities from Collectively's CONNECT program workbook to explore your beliefs and to learn how you can promote inclusion and social justice for yourself and others in your communities. Pledge to become a social justice ally today!

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Strategies to Support Social Justice

Mental health and social justice are two important issues that are closely intertwined. Social justice refers to the fair and just treatment of all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. In this blog post, Natural Appraise on Mental Health explores the intersection between mental health and social justice and discusses ways we can all support mental health within social justice efforts.

Join the Fight for Parity

Behavioral health and substance use care has often been limited, denied, or paid at different rates than physical health care. The fight for parity in coverage and services is one that started with families. We have looked for 'social justice’ not just in treatment arenas but in the community by insisting that our children—of any age— be integrated and accepted in school and community activities. Watch the adjacent video and visit our national partners on Parity linked below to learn more and join the fight!

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Become a Social Justice Champion

Everything we do at the National Federation is rooted in our commitment to social change. We invite you to participate in our campaigns and events to expand your tools for acceptance, advocacy, and action:


If you have content, resources, events, or other opportunities to collaborate on work that promotes social justice for families that you'd like us to explore, we invite you to contact us.

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