September is Pain Awareness Month!
The purpose of Pain Awareness Month is to raise awareness of, and help advocate for, appropriate and effective pain care.
Learn more about how you can Take Action to help advocate for those with pain by:
- Visiting our Self Advocacy section to learn about speaking up for a loved one in pain;
- Learning more about state and federal health and pain policy outreach in our Pain Policy Advocacy section, or;
- Contacting your local and state elected officials to declare September as Pain Awareness Month! See more about this below.
Securing & Leveraging State Governors’ Proclamations for September as Pain Awareness Month
Obtaining a proclamation from the governor of each state or mayors of major cities to declare September as Pain Awareness Month is a great way to help raise pain to the top of the health care agenda in your area. In 2001, the American Chronic Pain Association began efforts, which were later embraced by Partners for Understanding Pain, to formally declare September as Pain Awareness Month. Since then, September has become widely acknowledged as a month to recognize the importance of proper pain management and the rights of people in pain.
Partners for Understanding Pain (PUP) is a consortium of many organizations, each with its special knowledge and perspective, but all committed to bringing pain issues into sharper public focus. PUP’s hope and mandate is to raise awareness about the sources of pain and the many resources now available to people who suffer. To help increase involvement and awareness, PUP is encouraging every pain management advocate to have their state governor declare September as Pain Awareness Month.
Leveraging your Proclamations
The steps taken to secure a state or local proclamation offer an opportunity to educate government officials about state pain issues. The proclamation and state health observance can be further leveraged by:
- Utilizing September Pain Awareness Month as a central theme in developing community outreach programs at local hospitals, community centers or places of worship
- Conducting a rally to raise awareness of the need for improved state pain policy
- Planning a “Hill Day” to your state capital or to Washington, DC to meet with your Senators or Congressmen
- Sending press releases about any of the above activities and the health observance to local media, together with an interview opportunity for a local person with pain
PUP’s suggestions for securing state and local proclamations include:
Step 1. Identify Your Goal and Purpose Example: The goal is to obtain a Governor’s Proclamation declaring September as your state’s Pain Awareness Month. The purpose is to increase awareness surrounding the under treatment of pain in your state, to activate individuals to work toward reducing barriers and increasing access to appropriate pain management.
Step 2. Gather Supporting Materials Identify and gather all the current supporting materials on the subject. These will form the foundation on which you are making your request. They need to include statistics that reveal the incidence of the problem with credible references.
Valuable resources for information would be the American Chronic Pain Association and the U.S. Pain Foundation. Use proclamations that were already successful as a template for your state’s proclamation. Any work that you can do for the governor’s office in the writing of the proclamation or providing suggested wording will be appreciated and speed the process along! It will also help to ensure that the finished product accurately reflects your purpose.
Step 3. Contact the Governor’s or Mayor’s Office Once these materials are collected and prepared, call the governor’s office to determine which department is responsible for the writing and issuing of State Governor’s Proclamations. This department may vary by state, and may be listed as Public Relations, Press Office, Proclamation Office, etc. Determine the name of the contact person in charge of proclamations in that office.
Step 4. Request the Proclamation Call the contact person and introduce yourself and verify that he/she is in charge of proclamations. Identify yourself and explain your mission and state your goal and purpose. Ask if they’d like you to make an appointment to visit with them and share your materials, or if they would prefer that you send them the materials in the mail for their review (use the quickest mailing method that you can afford so that the staff receives the materials soon after the phone call). Always call to ensure they have received the materials and are comfortable with going forward with the request. In some instances, proclamations can be secured over the phone, but if you detect some reluctance from them about issuing a proclamation, a face-to-face meeting to make your case can be very effective.
Step 5. Confirm Timeline Be sure to find out how long they anticipate the process to take. It is suggested to allow a minimum of 2-3 months lead time. In some instances, proclamations can be secured in less time, but it is always good to start early.
Step 6. Receipt of Proclamation Request that the office send the finished proclamation directly to you as soon as it is finished. Be sure your contact information is included on all correspondence. Ask your contact if it is possible to arrange to pick up the proclamation in person (and, be sure to bring your camera – this is a great photo op!).
Step 7. Follow Up and Provide Feedback The governor’s or mayor’s office would appreciate information on how you intend to use the proclamation and then provide them with any pertinent feedback. An example of intended use for a proclamation may include raising awareness through media and community outreach about the under treatment of pain, inadequate access to pain care and barriers to pain management. A follow-up memo office detailing any events or media coverage will only make your case stronger should you approach them next year.
For additional information, log on to: www.theacpa.org and select Partners for Understanding Pain, Information and Advocacy. Then, select Proclamations Process Guide Toolkit
- No Pain, Your Gain — September is Pain Awareness Month (prweb.com)
- Creating Chronic Pain Awareness (You can help!) (chronicpainsurvivor.wordpress.com)