Many people shy away from getting involved in mental health advocacy because they don’t believe they can make a difference. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Even simple actions can make a huge difference in the life of an individual who is struggling with mental illness. Many people also don’t get involved because they are unaware of how and where they can do so. This is where getting involved with Mental Health Awareness Month can be especially valuable.
The Importance of Mental Health Advocacy
Now, the concept of mental health advocacy does not have to be complicated. Being a mental health advocate means taking action to help those struggling with issues of mental illness and/or addiction. This is especially helpful when it comes to individuals who don’t have the means or capabilities to advocate on their behalf.
Mental health advocacy can happen both directly and indirectly. It can happen one-on-one with people close to us, like family, friends, or co-workers who are struggling. Additionally, it can happen at a community level by volunteering time at a local community, recovery, or harm-reduction center.
Meanwhile, mental health advocacy can even happen online or by phone by reaching out to local and national government leaders who can bring change to laws that affect people with mental health and addiction issues. Another way to connect to mental health advocacy is by connecting with others during Mental Health Awareness Month.
What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.” Now, every May, Mental Health Awareness Month helps people get involved and become mental health advocates.
Mental Health Awareness Month can also have a very immediate impact. In 2023, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put forth some very important initiatives. According to the official HHS website:
We are proud to help lead the whole-of-society response to this crisis. We launched 988, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, expanded mental health services in schools, advanced a center for excellence on social media and mental health, and launched the HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration. In addition, we have helped states to establish Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which provide behavioral health care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because mental health crises don’t just happen during business hours.
While these are monumental efforts, it is not just government agencies that make a difference during Mental Health Awareness Month. Individuals can also get involved in numerous different ways.
Mental Health Awareness Month: Can I Help?
When it comes to mental health awareness, it can be helpful to start close to home and then work our way out. For example, if anyone in our home, school, or place of employment may be struggling, Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to reach out and offer help.
If they do need help, there are many places to reach out to on their behalf. We here at The Phoenix Recovery Center are always available for any questions or concerns that anyone may have. There are also local community centers and recovery groups that have the resources to help individuals who may be struggling.
If there is no one nearby who could use help, then there are most likely people in the local community who could use some support. This may simply mean being there for someone to talk to or volunteering time to take someone to their doctor’s appointment or a recovery meeting. On the national level, we can help those in need by keeping our representatives accountable and committed to helping their constituents in need of mental health and addiction care.
Year-Round Mental Health Awareness at The Phoenix Recovery Center
Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we are proud to support Mental Health Awareness Month every May. However, we are also proud to advocate for recovery from mental illness and addiction year-round. It is our primary purpose and the reason that we do what we do day in and day out.
The 17th-century English writer and theologian John Bunyan once wrote, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This is what mental health advocacy and Mental Health Awareness Month are about giving freely of ourselves without any expectations for anything in return. Ultimately, the more we do that, the better off we’ll all be, both as advocates and as people who are advocated for.
Mental Health Awareness Month started in 1949. Since then, it has helped bring awareness about mental health to millions of people. It has also been a launching pad for many people to get involved and become mental health advocates. If you feel like you or someone you love is struggling with issues of mental illness, addiction, or both, we can help get you on the right road to long-term recovery. For more information on Mental Health Awareness Month, what it is, what it does, how to get involved, and how to keep staying involved in mental health advocacy the entire year round, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.