What is Mental Health Advocacy?
Advocacy is formally defined as “the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending.” In this sense, mental health advocacy simply means showing support for and raising awareness. So, being an advocate of mental health boils down to being vocal about what you believe in and what you think is right regarding this area of health. Here are some ways you can show support for mental health in your community.
Join a Mental Health Advocacy Group
This one of the simplest and most effective ways to get involved and show support for mental health. There are a variety of advocacy groups— both online and in person— that raise awareness for and fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. One of the nation’s largest groups is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Support Your Family’s and Friends’ Mental Health
Mental health is more common than most people care to admit. In fact, 1 in 5 adults in the United States is suffering from at least one mental health condition. Even seemingly minor conditions like anxiety are categorized as mental illness. So, chances are, you already know someone who struggles with mental health. If you have family or friends with, anxiety, depression, or even OCD, becoming an advocate for their mental health will give them and others a sense of empowerment and validation that they might not otherwise be getting from a biased society. Learn about their mental illnesses, the best treatments for them, what their mental health goals are and support them. You’ll be making more a difference than you might think.
Support Your Own Mental Health
One of the most important things to remember when showing support for mental health is to take care of yourself as well. If you yourself suffer from a mental health condition, you can become your own advocate by doing what you would do for anyone else. Learn more about your illness and how it’s affecting you, research different treatments, and work actively with your doctor to keep your mental health at its best.
Share Your Thoughts and Opinions
This sounds a little too easy, but that’s because it is. With the help of your advocacy group, you can show support for mental health by:
- wearing, displaying and handing out green ribbons
- starting and sharing petitions to improve treatment methods
- creating a blog that addresses issues surrounding mental health
- sharing news articles and medical journals regarding mental health
- writing to community and even political leaders about mental health
- sharing information about mental health in brochures, flyers, books, etc.
These are just some ways to raise awareness and show advocacy for mental health. You are free to express your views however you want.
Join Local Businesses in Their Efforts to Raise Awareness About Mental Health
Working with your community to raise awareness for mental health is one of the most effective ways to share information. There are several simple ways you can do this, including:
- featuring books about mental health in the display at a local bookstore
- holding community fund raisers and sending donations to groups like NAMI
- hosting special events at book stores, coffee shops, art shows, or other similar places where members of the public can express themselves creatively to raise awareness
Remember Your Role as a Mental Health Advocate
You will be doing a lot of good by doing any of the things listed above to promote and show support for mental health. Still, there are some limitations as a mental health advocate that you should recognize. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- stay positive; any sort of advocacy group has its critics
- be receptive; not everyone shares your views or experiences
- work smart, not hard; wearing yourself out won’t help anyone
- don’t play doctor; unless you are actually qualified to do so, don’t try to recommend or discourage specific treatments for other people
Help Discovery Show Support for Mental Health
Becoming a mental health advocate is only as difficult as you allow it to be. There are plenty of ways to show support for mental health, like the ones listed above. While the ultimate goal remains to remove the stigma from mental health, your job as an advocate is to reach out to as many people as you can. If you manage to help even one person, you’re already making a difference. Don’t underestimate your contribution. At Discovery Institute, we want you and others like you to be the change you want to see in the world. We support mental health and we’re glad you do, too. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues as a result of a substance addiction, please call us at 888-616-7177.