Mental Health Policy Analyst


Careers at Access Living

Position: Mental Health Policy Analyst

Basic Function:

Access Living seeks a full-time Mental Health Policy Analyst, who will be responsible for systems change efforts to improve mental health care, supporting Access Living’s overall cross-disability policy work in a range of areas. The Policy Analyst will assess, develop, and advocate for legislation and rules that shift mental health systems towards more accessible and effective supports for all kinds of people with disabilities, including those who are immigrants and those who are impacted by the criminal justice system.

Access Living’s mental health policy advocacy centers the needs of disabled people of color. A critical understanding of the root of racial disparities and a racial equity lens is essential to this role.

A team mindset and creative approach will be essential for this position. This position will work in partnership with the Education Policy Analyst, the Economic Justice Policy Analyst, the Transportation Policy Analyst, the Diversion and Reentry Policy Analyst, the Healthcare/HCBS Policy Analyst, and the Organizing staff in the Advocacy Department; as well as with key staff in the Independent Living Department, Civil Rights Department, and the Communications Department.

Specific Duties:

  • Advance/support Access Living’s strategic policy advocacy campaigns and public education to expand access to mental health supports for people with disabilities, especially disabled people of color.
  • Serve as policy lead on Access Living’s advocacy related to the implementation of the historic Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA) to advance mobile mental health crisis response teams that do not involve law enforcement. Collaborate with stakeholders, policy advocates and community members to advance non-police emergency response programs for people with disabilities in crisis.
  • Conduct extensive relationship-building and build coalitions with elected officials, mental health providers, grassroots people with lived experience, and other stakeholders.
  • Monitor mental health policy, legislation and related court cases at local, state and Federal levels, from an intersectional standpoint rooted in disability rights and the disability movement.
  • Draft public comment, policy reports and recommendation memos relating to mental health from a cross-disability standpoint, including updates on relevant government budgets as needed, and be able to complete projects on deadline, sometimes with quick turnaround.
  • Act as a spokesperson for Access Living on mental health related issues as requested, in collaboration with the Director of Advocacy and the Communications Department.
  • Document work as required through data entry, quarterly reporting, and lobbyist compliance requirements.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Education and Training:

Advanced degree or equivalent experience preferred in public policy, health, social work or political science. Must have excellent demonstrated writing/research skills. Familiarity with how structural racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of oppression affect people with disabilities. Familiarity with community dynamics/current players related to mental health supports in the city of Chicago.


Lived experience highly preferred. At least 3-5 years’ experience with mental health policy advocacy, including engaging with elected and career government officials. Familiarity with the mental health provider service and funding ecosystem. Familiarity with how structural racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of oppression affect people with disabilities.

Familiarity with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Olmstead Supreme Court decision, and the Affordable Care Act as it impacts persons with disabilities, especially those with mental health lived experience.


  • Existing mental health policy advocacy network with contacts in the greater Chicago area.
  • Prior experience in lobbying and/or political organizing.
  • Demonstrated leadership in advancing complex, coalition-oriented policy advocacy initiatives.
  • Understanding of Independent Living Philosophy, disability justice, and disability rights.
  • Experience with reviewing and interpreting mental health research/data, policy, legislation, and regulations.
  • Comfort with public presentations to a variety of audiences.

Physical Demands:

Ability to travel within state; will need to travel out of state on occasion.

Equipment Operated:

Computers, copier, scanner

Working Environment:

Access Living operates under a hybrid office plan. Staff members are required to come into the office two days out of every week and may work remotely the other three if they so choose.

Access Living’s office environment is one of shared work space with individual cubicles. Masks are required for all members of staff as well as for all visitors to Access Living.

Access Living requires all staff members to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, including a booster shot.

Professional Affiliations:


No. Employees Directly Supervised:

None, but will supervise fellows/interns

Supervised By:

Director of Advocacy


STARTING SALARY RANGE: $65,000-$68,000

How to Apply:

Applicants should send cover letter, resume/CV, and no more than 10 pages of a writing sample preferably related to this position. Materials should be sent to   

People with lived experience of disability, people with first-hand experience with the criminal justice system, people of color, people who are LGBTQIA*, immigrants, and others from underrepresented groups strongly encouraged to apply.