There is now little doubt among those in the recovery field that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it some serious ramifications regarding people’s mental health and emotional wellness. An article in Indian Journal of Psychiatry predicted this while still amid the pandemic. The article states, “The past several months have also seen people with mental health conditions experiencing even greater social isolation than before, and given the circumstances, it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years.” That increasing need is now upon us, which is why becoming an active mental health advocate may be more important than ever.
What is a Mental Health Advocate?
A mental health advocate is someone who supports those struggling with mental health. A mental health advocate can raise awareness about mental health issues, promote understanding, advocate for better support and resources for individuals facing mental health challenges, offer empathy to those struggling, provide non-judgmental support, encourage others to seek professional help, foster an environment of understanding and care, and more.
According to the aforementioned article, “The concept of mental health advocacy has been developed to promote the human rights of persons with mental disorders and to reduce stigma and discrimination. It consists of various actions aimed at changing the major structural and attitudinal barriers to achieving positive mental health outcomes in populations.” Now, while this is generally addressing the broader picture of mental health advocacy, it can only flourish when it is performed on an individual basis.
As mentioned aboveAlso, mental health advocacy can manifest in many forms. It can be as simple as changing the language we use around mental illness and correcting others when they use it. For example, “crazy” is not an acceptable, or respectable term. It can be hurtful to so many people struggling with mental illness and/or addiction. However, while these are all positive moves, becoming an active mental health advocate is where we can really do the most good.
What Does It Mean to Be an Active Mental Health Advocate?
Now, being an active mental health advocate is basically what it sounds like. It involves action, connection, and sometimes sacrifice. However, these efforts are well rewarded when even one person benefits from mental health advocacy.
Now, there are many ways to become an active mental health advocate. One of the ways is to reach out to local organizations that have a connection to the mental health and addiction community. They are often in dire need of volunteers to help spread awareness about the prevalence of mental illness. It is also a great idea to reach out to organizations that have yet to reach out to the recovery community. Perhaps we can be the ones to help them get an advocacy program off of the ground.
Being an active mental health advocate also means service. One way to further be of service is to reach out to other active mental health advocates to create plans to spread awareness and help those who are struggling.
Connecting With Other Active Mental Health Advocates
Just as it is recommended to people in recovery to create a strong sober network of peers, it is also recommended that active mental health advocates create a strong network of people willing to do the work necessary to help them recover.
Having a strong mental health advocate network ensures that individuals stay on the right track regarding the information that they are sharing because the mental health and recovery industry is constantly evolving.
It is also important to understand that someone can be a mental health advocates even if they too have struggled with mental health issues. In fact, they are uniquely qualified as they have direct experience with what mental illness feels like.
Being an Active Mental Health Advocate While in Recovery
Being in recovery offers a great opportunity to be an active mental health advocate. That work invariably puts that individual right in the center of the recovery community and other people that need help.
Having first-hand experience in treatment is a unique qualification of easing people’s minds when they are apprehensive about getting help. People in recovery can advocate by leading by example and showing how well recovery can work. Also, they can show how much life can open up in recovery.
The Mission of Mental Health Advocacy at the Phoenix Recovery Center
There is a concept in Buddhism that concerns enlightenment and “a blade of grass.” The metaphor is that no one will reach enlightenment until the last blade of grass has done so as well. This means that no one should be left behind even as we grow ourselves.
Ultimately, this is what service and being a mental health advocate is all about; making sure that everyone has a chance to recover. Likewise, this is our primary purpose at The Phoenix Recovery Center.
If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health, start today to find recovery. For more information on how to treat issues of mental health, reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center at (801) 438-3185.