As a society, we are learning more and more about mental health issues and how to take care of one another better. Each day we gain a deeper understanding of how we can treat mental illness effectively and how to better serve vulnerable communities in need.
Unfortunately, our ability to remove stigmas and improve the systems that impact people with mental illness does not move at the same rate as our ability to learn about it. In fact, according to Mental Health for America, roughly 56% of adults in the US still do not receive the appropriate treatment or resources they need to effectively cope with their illness, despite our best efforts to get them help.
So, if you’re wondering how you can become a mental health advocate and be a positive influence on the world as a whole, here are six ways you can get started.
Educate yourself about mental health issues, stigmas, and obstacles
Knowing where society or your community is falling short on mental health issues is one of the biggest opportunities a mental health advocate has to make a difference. As you learn about under-served communities and as you decide what changes you want to see in the world, you'll gain a deeper understanding of where you need to concentrate your efforts to make those changes a reality.
Speak up about mental health
In order to make real changes in the world, visibility and representation matters. Because not all people have the ability, the permission, the confidence, or the strength to speak up, you can make a difference in the world by speaking up for those groups and being vocal about the changes you want to see.
Speaking up about mental health rights doesn't necessarily mean you have to picket outside city hall with a megaphone either. No matter how big or how small your effort is, simply communicating your feelings and advocating for change is a significant step toward progress.
See a counselor
Whether you personally need mental health treatment or not, speaking with a therapist can provide you with invaluable resources and trusted, professional advice on the topic. The knowledge you gain from your counselor can be used to improve your own health and well-being as well as make a positive difference on someone else's.
Volunteer your time and help those in need
Volunteering your time is a great way to become a better mental health advocate--not only because you're actively helping others, but also because you're directly engaging with your local community and being visible as a mental health ally.
"Be the change you want to see" is the best advice I can give for a person who is trying to make an impact in the world. There's no better place to start than in your own back yard. You never know who you might be inspiring through your actions.
Join a mental health organization or advocacy group
Joining a mental health organization or advocacy group will plug you into a rich and plentiful variety of resources, events, and contacts you can use to start making a difference.
Below we’ve listed a few mental health resources you can browse, including resource links on how you can get involved:
Vote to improve mental health treatment
If you are over 18 and are eligible to vote, you can make your voice heard by voting on critical mental health issues. Mental illness affects people across all social classes, political affiliations, and backgrounds, so getting out to vote rewards us all, regardless of who you are or where you come from. When you vote to improve someone’s access to quality mental health resources, everybody wins.
Pathways Counseling Services is an Arizona-based counseling center that provides a variety of mental health treatment options to people in Scottsdale and the surrounding communities. If you would like to find additional resources on how you can make an impact in your community, or if you are local to the Scottsdale area and would like to book a session with one of our therapists, please call (480) 235-1682 or click here to schedule an appointment.