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Many people avoid being mental health advocates because they are worried that they don’t have anything unique to bring to the table. However, there is plenty that anyone can do to help in the fight against mental illness as long as they are open and willing to take on the task. No matter their experience with mental illness. However, if someone doesn’t want help, being an advocate for them becomes even more difficult.

How to Be a Mental Health Advocate

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about mental health advocacy is that essentially anyone can engage in it. One doesn’t have to be in a specific recovery or mental health field or need to have been personally affected by mental illness to contribute. It is all about making an effort and taking action to help those struggling with mental illness (including someone who doesn’t want help).

One does not have to engage directly with individuals with mental illness to be a mental health advocate. There are many things anyone can do to indirectly help those who struggle with mental illness and addiction. These include engaging with community outreach centers, getting involved in online and community forums, and talking to local representatives about local mental health issues.

Sometimes, advocating on the outside is even more ideal. This may be the best case when individuals who are struggling push back and say they don’t want any help.

How to Be a Mental Health Advocate for Someone Who Doesn’t Want Help

When an individual doesn’t want help, it can make the person reaching out feel helpless. The key is to understand that the individual struggling is not ignoring help on any sort of personal basis; rather, they are most likely concerned about what that help may represent.

It is important to step into the shoes of someone struggling with mental illness and empathize with their situation. Many people with mental illness can manage their symptoms yet feel overwhelmed by their constant distress. They do this because they fear the interruption to their day-to-day lives that getting help may cause. Individuals also tend to be fearful of the stigmas that are associated with mental illness, which may also cause them to reject help. 

It’s important to realize that people with mental illness are not simply pushing back for no reason, out of pride, or some sort of avoidance. Many people are just worried about a shift to their “comfortable” status quo. For these people, as long as they are not a threat to themselves or others, it is probably best to give them some space until they are ready for help.

Know When to Allow Space to Someone Who Doesn’t Want Help

Giving space to someone who doesn’t want help is different than simply not helping. You can give someone space while still being a mental health advocate on their behalf. Part of this may involve doing what was mentioned earlier, such as reaching out to community centers and volunteering time. 

Another part of continuing advocacy while providing space involves reaching out to others to try and get more support and help for the person struggling. This may be other family members, co-workers, or close friends. This shouldn’t be done to come at the individual with a “strength in numbers” type of approach. This will most likely cause them to feel “ganged up on” and cause them to push back harder.

Rather, reaching out to others just gives people more support and more sets of eyes to make sure an individual struggling doesn’t get worse, or do something to harm themselves or others. If they do take a step in that direction then having more people aware can be beneficial because professional help can be sought as soon as they begin to slip.

Knowing When to Reach Out to Professionals

One of the hardest parts of being a mental health advocate for someone who doesn’t want help is knowing when to reach out for help on their behalf. An advocate may feel like they are betraying their trust, but they must understand they are potentially saving their life.

No matter what or no matter how conflicted, it is crucial to seek professional help if a person’s mental state becomes a threat to themselves or others. It’s not like the individual is being “put away.” They are just going to be responsibly assessed and they will most likely finally get the help that they need. Though they will have to be the ones to accept it. 

The Phoenix Recovery Center: Mental Health Advocates Always

An iconic Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, once said, “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” We know the feeling and the fear of the unknown when it comes to getting help for mental illness.

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we know that getting help is a personal choice. However, we also know that those choices are best made when an individual has adequate support. We are here, and will always be here, to be that support.

Being a mental health advocate becomes much more complex when the individual who we are advocating for claims not to want our help. However, this doesn’t mean that we cannot be of service. We can advocate by promoting treatment for the things they are struggling with on a broader scale. In some instances, we can hold an intervention. We can be empathetic and loving but still implement boundaries unless they are willing to get help. Ultimately, we can only do so much directly, and then we have to understand that we may need to step away to tend to our mental health and wellness. For more information, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT