Advocate For Mental Health Effectively With These Expert Tips
(AscendHealthy.com) – According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental health issues every year, and half of all lifetime mental illness begins before the age of 14. With uncertainty in a number of aspects of our collective daily lives in recent years, the work of mental health advocates is perhaps more important now than it ever has been before.
What Is a Mental Health Advocate?
A mental health advocate is one who provides support for those with mental illness. This can be done in a number of ways, including:
- Sharing your story to encourage or inspire others who are struggling with mental illness. NAMI explains this can be done through blogs, social media, book writing, or speaking engagements.
- Volunteering with a local mental health organization.
- Working in an office environment, providing information and advice on how to access mental health services.
- Take on the role of mental health advocate at your school, helping to bring mental health awareness to other students.
- Correct others who use stigmatizing language about mental illness.
There is no specific criteria for becoming a mental health advocate, making the field open to creative and unique opportunities to bring advocacy to all aspects of life.
Ways You Can Become a Mental Health Advocate
Advocating for mental health is a difficult calling and those who are interested in joining the field should remember to be patient with themselves as they learn the most effective ways to advocate, take the opportunity to learn more about mental health issues whenever it arises, never be afraid to ask for help, and avoid the risk of burnout by not overcommitting time and energy to the cause. Here is a look at some of the ways one can become a mental health advocate.
Work With Private or Nonprofit Organizations
There are a number of national organizations devoted to advocating for the mentally ill. Many of these organizations have local chapters or events, as well as training for those who are interested in the mental health field. Some of these organizations include:
This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list, and those interested can likely find organizations specific to their area to become involved with by searching “local mental health organizations” on an internet search engine.
Attend an Awareness Event
Local chapters of mental health organizations frequently advertise awareness events on their social media pages and with local news outlets. Interested individuals can attend one of these events to meet those involved in providing mental health services in their area, as well as to learn about regional mental health concerns and the actions of local politicians on the matter.
Encourage Local Politicians to Prioritize Mental Health
Have you ever heard of the SUPPORT Act, which provides services to address the growing opioid addiction in the U.S.? How about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which makes insurance benefits available for mental health and addiction issues as they are for other medical conditions? These are just two examples of federal laws that came into being because mental health advocates worked to make the struggles of those with mental illness or addiction known to those in the position to create laws. Mental health should be a priority at all levels of government — from city councils to the U.S. House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and even the President.
Become a Self-Advocate
Self-advocacy is the act of sharing one’s story of mental illness in order to strengthen and encourage others. There are benefits to the storyteller as well, including providing a new insight or perspective on the experience.
For More Information About Mental Health Advocacy
If you would like more information about how to find out about opportunities for mental health advocates in your area, reach out to any of the sources listed above. Good luck!
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