March 25, 2020
You’ve been there, done that. You have been depressed, suffered from anxiety, and/or dealt with substance use. And you remember how it felt to do it alone. The loneliness just made it all that much more unbearable. You wish you had someone who knew what you were going through. Someone close to your age who understood. Now that you are doing better, you are thinking that maybe, just maybe, you could be that someone for someone else. You can make changes so that others like you don’t need to be alone. But can you become an advocate for mental health? You are already an advocate when you take charge of your own mental health. However, you can reach outside of yourself and be an advocate for others, be an advocate for mental health. The stigma is so strong, but it only takes one voice to start the change. Each conversation you have with others about what mental health is and isn’t starts to affect change and can have a domino effect bigger than you can imagine, toppling ignorance. So can you become an advocate for mental health? Absolutely.
One of the most important aspects of advocacy is simply to speak up. Use every opportunity you have to talk about mental health and to clear up misconceptions about what mental health is and isn’t, and also false ideas about treatment. You are best prepared to speak up by speaking from your own experience, and by learning everything you can about mental health and treatment. One of the things that stigma does best is to stifle the voices of those who have lived with mental illness and substance abuse. Stigma creates fear around the truth and gives power to ignorance. You have the opportunity to change all of that. By being bold and being courageous, you can use your words to deflate stigma faster than a balloon popping. Your truth can change how people view mental illness and substance use both now and forever. By authentically speaking up in support of mental health, you are changing not only perceptions, but changing lives.
Changing lives is one of the most important things that you may ever do. It doesn’t take much, either. A smile, a hug, a kind word… those things can not only change a life, they can save a life. Mental illness can feel so lonely. Someone reaching out to you in your time of need can make the difference to help you fight another day, to seek help, and maybe even pass along the gift of reaching out to others someday. Reaching out can be raising awareness and putting yourself in the position to have people contact you, like forming a mental health club, a support group, or opening up your messages on social media accounts for people who want to talk. Or reaching out can be one by one, watching and listening and being a friend to those who are alone like you once were.
You have a special qualification to help educate others about mental health: you have lived it. You know what people need to hear when they are in it. You know what people need to hear to help those who are suffering like you have, too. You know what the stigma is surrounding mental health and you have the knowledge to change it. By sharing your experiences and sharing your knowledge, you can educate others. You never know who you’re going to touch, you never know the lives you can change, simply by educating others. Are there things that you wish you had known sooner about mental illness or substance use? Are there things that you learned during your suffering or in treatment that you think other people should know about? You have the opportunity to educate and empower others, which can create a ripple effect of education that can both help heal and save lives.
You have been given a gift, the gift of living through something very difficult and coming out on the other side, wiser and empowered with knowledge and experience. Now you have the opportunity to lead boldly. You can be an advocate for mental health and substance use, and you can be a leader in raising awareness, too. You can take your pain, find your healing, and make it a strength. You can be a beacon to others who are struggling just like you did. You can lead the battle against stigma and fear and create a better world for everyone who struggles with mental health.
As someone who has been there, you can bless others when you speak up to destroy stigma. You can be that person for someone else when you reach out to others who are suffering. You can be a resource to others and provide education to replace ignorance. You can also boldly lead in the battle to raise awareness and become a reference point of mental health to others. As you become an advocate for mental health and substance use in any way you can, you will help protect your own mental health, too. The question isn’t really can you be an advocate. The question is how you will advocate, and when?
Find out how you can be an advocate for mental health. Call Potomac Programs 1-855-809-0409 today. Find your own mental health and be a leader for others to follow, too.