Becoming an Advocate For Mental Illness

     Today, I’ve been thinking a great deal about advocacy and mental illness. How does one become an advocate for those who struggle with a mental illness. Usually it’s because the person themselves struggles with mental illness or has a friend or loved one with a mental illness. Then their are those people who choose to be advocates for the mentally ill out of the kindness of their hearts. Most of those who do it out of the kindness of their hearts are usually the professionals like Social Workers, Therapist, Psychologists, etc.. Advocacy for mental health has been out there in world for a while now

     I’ve always been an advocate for myself and my mental health struggles even if I wasn’t aware of it especially in the early years of the diagnosis’s as well as in the height of my struggles with mental illness. It wasn’t until the last two or three years that I’ve realized that I was advocating for other with mental illness and was good at it. In fact the being good at it part was pointed out to me. The realization of advocating for those with mental illness is part of the reason why I started volunteering at a homeless shelter that specializes in those who struggle with mental illness and/or drug & alcohol addictions. Plus the advocating realization is the reason why I got my Peer Counselor certification. Being a peer counselor is basically being an advocate for them and showing your fellow peer who is struggling how to advocate for themselves. I may not be employed as a peer counselor yet but that doesn’t mean I cant still advocate for those who are not able to advocate for themselves yet.

    That is why I have decided to embark on a new journey. Well it’s not so much a new journey but a continuation of the journey I’m already on. I mailed in a volunteer application to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I also emailed a volunteer application to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). I did this because I want to speak up for those who are not able to speak up for themselves. I know it might sound like I am taking a lot on especially since I got an email about an hour ago saying that my volunteer application for a local peer run Warm Line was received and asked to attend a training for it in late July through August but all this feel right for me at the moment. Yes, I’m working at a job I don’t like and am looking for a job as a peer counselor however all this that I am doing feels like its what I am suppose to be doing. Maybe it is a lot to take on at one time and its something to think about as well as discuss it with my therapist and other people in my life that support me. Yes, my boyfriend thinks I’m doing what is right for me and what is right for those who struggle with mental illness.

     Another thing I am going to be doing is writing the politicians who represent me and the area I live in. I’m hoping that the politicians I write or email will listen to what I have to say in regards to mental illness and treatment or in a lot of cases the lack of treatment. Lack of treatment is a big issue. Boarding in E.R’s have become a major issue for those who have been involuntarily committed because there are not enough beds. See, now I am getting on a soap box. This is why it is my hope that someone listens to people like me who want better mental health care for those struggling with mental illness.

     Now that I have bored you with my hopes regarding becoming an advocate for those who struggle with mental illness I am going to end this particular blog entry. I am sorry it is so long. It is my desire that some day the stigma that goes along with having a mental illness with be eliminated. Well, have a good rest of your Thursday evening and hope to blog again tomorrow. Peace out all.

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5 responses to “Becoming an Advocate For Mental Illness

  1. Hi,
    I am also a Mental Health Advocate. I am hoping to work with my local NAMI to raise awareness for mental illness. I am also attending the NAMI National Confetence in Washington D.C. In September–you should check it out. They have a day where people who want to attend can go visit your Congressional Reps. And tell your story while also asking them to support mental health funding. If you can not make the meeting you can participate on-line with twitter. It is pretty cool. I think it is awesome what you are doing.

  2. I wonder if mental illness has a stigma not only because of lack of understanding but also a hidden fear that “it could be me someday” so we turn a blind eye, or rather, we choose to close it out of our reality. I lost a dear friend to manic depression and my step sister deals with a severe case. However, I am proud of her for managing it as effectively as possible. We don’t give up on our loved ones if they have cancer or lupus or… Why do we do it to our friends and family if they have mental illness? I think the first step is remembering that *everyone* has feelings, fears and dreams.

  3. Being a mental health advocate is one of the most fulfilling I have ever done in my life. I can see and feel a change, albeit slight in society towards mental health. I think a lot of the stigma is based on ignorance and education is critical to removing stigma over time.

    Good luck with your efforts. It can be a frustrating road but knowing in yourself that you are working hard to make a difference is a great feeling

  4. I think that is so admirable what you are doing. I have shared this before on another blog but want to share this with you as well. It was written by a father whose son committed suicide. “I’m certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain, in God’s garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit.”
    What a wonderful gift you are giving others – using your experiences to bear much fruit in your own life and in other lives. The father also said ”
    “There’s no shame when any other organ in your body fails, so why do we feel shame if our brain is broken?”
    I wish you all the best.

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